Skip to main content

Full text of "Regional Types Of British Agriculture"

See other formats

64222 > 

CD ^ CO 



Call No, *> ^ ! M <1 ', ^ version No. ! -' ( c C 


This book should be returned on or before the date last marked below. 

Regional Types 

British Agriculture 


Advisory Province Centres 

I Armstrong College. Newcastle -on- Tync 
2.Untvers/ti/ of Manchester. 
\Umvenity of Letds 

^.University of Cambridge 

ti Agricultural College. Wye. Kent 
7. University of Reading. 
' ' alfural Colliye, Devon. 

9. University of Bristol . 
\QHorpfr Adorns Agnc 


\\Mventy Co/kye of Walts. Aberystwytk 


^..University of Aberdeen. 
]Z.(Jn/versity of Ed in bury h. 
14 University of Glasgow. 

Regional Types 


British Agriculture 


Fifteen Authors 

Edited by 

J. P. Maxton 

M.A., B.Sc., B.Lrrr. 


George Allen &, Unwin Ltd 
Museum Street 


All rights reserved 



THE original conception of this volume of essays was to 
provide a brief outline of the farming in all parts of Great 
Britain, for the benefit of foreign visitors to the Fourth 
International Conference of Agricultural Economists, held 
at the University of St. Andrews, 1936. It is felt, however, 
that the collection of these essays into one volume is likely 
to prove valuable to a much wider public than that for 
which it was originally intended. 

In the whole of a fairly large body of agricultural literature 
in Great Britain, there is no up-to-date volume which 
provides for the whole of the country an outline of the farming 
which one is likely to find in any part, and it is this gap 
which Regional Types of British Agriculture goes some little 
way to fill. A few articles about one or two, but by no 
means every county, are to be found scattered through the 
volumes of various journals of the past twenty years ; a very 
few books, such as Sir A. D. Hall's Pilgrimage of British 
Farming, now nearing its quarter-century, and Professor 
Scott Watson's Rural Britain; these are all in this d6ritur$$ 
literature which one can turn to. 

In this single volume, simple and unpretentious in its 
design, the whole of Great Britain is covered, and the main 
systems of farming to be found in every part are briefly 
described. The task set the authors was in many ways not 
an easy one. They had to proceed on the assumption that 
the readers had little or no knowledge of the distribution of 
farming in this country. They were faced with the mass of 
complex conditions which influence types of farming and 
the mass of variations in systems of management within even 
a short radius. They had to endeavour to reduce these 
complications to simple outlines, each for a province of 
upwards of two million acres, and they had to do so within 
a space of less than a score of pages. 


A word is necessary on the method of partitioning the 
country. Under the advisory and research scheme financed 
by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of 
Agriculture for Scotland, England and Wales are divided 
into eleven and Scotland into three "advisory provinces." 
The division of the country into these fourteen provinces 
is the method adopted in this volume. With one exception, 
the outline of each province is contributed by the agri- 
cultural economist who is, or has been until very recently, the 
head of the economics research department of the province. 

The editor is very much indebted to the contributors for 
their willing co-operation in the work and for the trouble 
which they have taken to achieve a substantial measure of 
uniformity of treatment in the essays. Absolute uniformity 
is impossible in view of the very varied conditions from 
John o' Groats to Land's End and is perhaps undesirable on 
other grounds, but efforts have been made to furnish a 
general similarity of method while leaving the authors free 
to apply their own style, judgment, and emphasis to their 
own part of the work. In the case of the maps which go with 
each province, the editor holds himself responsible for the 
foolhardiness with which the boundary lines of the agri- 
cultural regions are drawn. An accurate dividing line 
between one type of farming and another rarely, if ever, 
exists and the lines drawn on the maps are provided for 
very general guidance only. 

The editor is also indebted to his colleagues, Mr. James 
Grant and Mr. J. J. MacGregor for their help in very many 

Finally, acknowledgment is due to Mr. L. K. Elmhirst 
and Mr. J. R. Currie, President and Secretary of the Inter- 
national Conference of Agricultural Economists, for their 
support, and to Mr. Elmhirst and the Dartington Hall 
Trustees for providing facilities without which it would have 
been impossible to carry out the work. 

J. P. M. 


June 1936 



Preface 7 



By A. BRIDGES, Agricultural Economics Research Institute, 



By D. H. DINSDALE, Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 


By JOHN ORR, University of Manchester 


By A. G. RUSTON, University of Leeds 



By ALLAN KNOX, Midland Agricultural College, Sutton 
Bonington, Loughborough 



By R. McG. CARSLAW, University of Cambridge 





By EDGAR THOMAS, University of Reading 





By W. HARWOOD LONG, Seale-Hayne Agricultural College, 



By C. V. DAWE, University of Bristol 


By F. S. DENNIS, Harper Adams Agricultural College, Salop 


By A. W. ASHBY and E. LL. HARRY, University of Wales 



By A. D. IMPER, North of Scotland College of Agriculture, 



By D. WITNEY, Edinburgh and East of Scotland College 
of Agriculture 



By J. A. GILCHRIST, West of Scotland Agricultural College, 

INDEX 313 

Chapter I 

General Features of Farming in 
Great Britain 


Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Oxford 


General Features of Farming in Great Britain 

THE highly industrialized character of Great Britain over- 
shadows the extent and importance of its agriculture, but 
one of the influences of industrialization is the almost 
universal utilization of all available land for agriculture. 
Out of a total land area of about 37 million acres in Eng- 
land and Wales, 68 per cent is under arable crops and 
permanent pasture, and another 15 per cent is classed as 
rough grazings and heath land in agricultural use. About 
5 per cent is under forest and woodland. Industry and 
commerce, the housing of the millions of population, roads, 
railways, etc., in England and Wales and the land in no 
sort of use at all take up only about 12 per cent of the area. 
In Scotland, owing to the mountainous nature of a large 
proportion of the area, the figures are different. The total 
area is about 19 million acres, of which only 24 per cent is 
under arable crops and permanent grass and 50 per cent 
is mountain and heath land used for grazing. Forests and 
moorlands take up about 7 per cent, leaving about 19 per 
cent for Scotland's other activities and as completely waste 
and, not a high proportion considering the country's 
mountainous character. 

A significant feature of British agriculture is the very 
great variety of agricultural conditions. This is surprising, 
when it is remembered that Great Britain is a compara- 
tively small area lying within a narrow range of latitude 
between 50 N. and 60 N. ; that no part of it is more than 
80 miles from the sea and its moderating influences on 
climate; that, outside parts of Scotland, and the North 
of England and Wales, very little of it is higher than 
800 feet above sea-level ; and that the extremes of rainfall 
and temperature are not great. Agricultural conditions, in 


Great Britain, compared with many other countries, in 
one or other of these respects, vary within a narrow range 
of extremes, but, within those extremes, the economic 
position of the country has made the variations important 
by using them to the best advantage. 

The essays which follow show in some detail the variation 
in conditions which determine the farming throughout the 
country, and in this introduction all that is attempted is 
to outline the broad differentiating features of the country 
as a whole. 

First, from the altitude map, it can be seen that the 
outstanding feature is that the high land lies mostly in the 
west and the broad acres of low land are to be found in 
the eastern half of the country. This is particularly true 
of England. If a line is drawn due south from Newcastle- 
on-Tyne, it will be found that hardly any of England to 
the east of that line is over 800 feet and only a few small 
areas are over 400 feet. To the west of the line, however, 
the large part of the North of England from the Scottish 
border southwards as far as Derbyshire is over 800 feet, 
and stretches of it are over 1,200 feet. The rest of England, 
even in this western half, has no highland region to com- 
pare with the Pennine and Cumberland ranges of the North 
of England, but uplands of over 400 feet continue in 
Staffordshire and Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, 
and Somerset, with the higher ridges of the Cotswold Hills 
and the Salisbury Plain. In the south-west, Dartmoor and 
Exmoor Forests rise above the i,2OO-foot level. To add 
to the highland impression of the west country, the whole of 
Wales presents an almost entirely mountainous appearance 
with its great central blocks of country lying above 1,200 feet. 
The whole of this western half of England and Wales is 
not, of course, highland. The lowland plains of Lancashire 
and Cheshire, the Severn Valley and a large part of Somer- 
set are outstanding exceptions, while innumerable broad 
valleys exist everywhere. 


Scotland in some respects shows totally different physical 
features. It is true that the most of the lowland country is 
in the east, but high land predominates over the whole 
country ; so much so that it is easier to point to the lowland 
stretches than to the hills. The valleys of the Forth and 
Clyde, the Ayrshire coast, the south coast of Wigtown and 
Dumfries, the lower valley of the Tweed, the Lothians, 
Fife, Forfar, and the coastal strip following the east coast 
at greater or less width to the Pentland Firth, comprise 
almost the whole of the lowland of Scotland, and the rest, 
apart from steep narrow glens, is in three main blocks of 
hills rising over 1,200 feet; the Southern Uplands occupy- 
ing the large part of the country between the English 
border and the valleys of the Forth and Clyde; the vast 
central range of the Grampian Mountains occupying the 
large part of the country between the Forth and Clyde in 
the south and the Caledonian Canal in the north ; and the 
Northern Highlands which occupy almost the whole of 
Scotland north of the Caledonian Canal. 

The climate of the whole of Great Britain is determined 
by the Gulf Stream drift, modified by the anticyclones of 
the Continent. In any particular district these influences 
are profoundly modified by topography. Thus the areas 
of lowest rainfall (20-25 inches) are found in the low-lying 
regions along the eastern side of the country. As one moves 
westward higher altitudes are encountered, the rainfall 
rises steadily, reaching 100 inches and over in parts of the 
western hills. Even in the western parts the rainfall of the 
lower levels may be very little more than in the eastern 
districts. The normal precipitation of the Cheshire-Shrop- 
shire Plain, for instance, ranges round about 20 inches. 

Generally, the 3O-inch line of rainfall, which may be 
regarded in England and Wales as critical for arable culti- 
vation, runs in a sinuous line from Berwick at the extreme 
north-east corner southward to the Isle of Wight. East of 
this line the rainfall may be as low as 20 inches, and arable 


farming tends to predominate ; west of it, except in certain 
areas, by far the greater part of the land is in permanent 
pasture. Even in the east, prolonged drought or frost is 
rare, so that England and Wales is essentially a country of 
grass and trees and fully justifies, where the towns do not 
defile it, the description of "a green and pleasant land." 

In Scotland, rainfall is generally higher, but again the 
eastern parts have a lower mean annual rainfall ranging 
from 25 to 30 inches, contrasting with a rainfall in the 
rest of Scotland generally exceeding 35 inches and even 
40 inches in the cultivated parts, and increasing with alti- 
tude to over 100 inches. 

Soils also have a profound influence on the type of 
farming practised, but the soils of England and Wales are 
so diverse and such small headway has been made so far 
in mapping and classifying the surface soils, that no general 
description is possible. It can be said, however, that in the 
main the youngest soils, in the geological sense, are found 
on the east coast. Here are an extraordinary variety of 
alluvia, sands, gravels, loams, and clays, while charac- 
teristic features of the south and east are the low ranges 
of chalk (the downland) and oolitic limestone (the wolds), 
usually running from the south-west to north-east, which 
give rise to a rather special type of farming. Travelling 
westward, one rises on to progressively older formations, 
large areas of land being derived from the underlying sand- 
stones and still older granites. The western soils are for 
the most part sedimentary, while those of the east have 
been profoundly influenced by drift erosion and flood 

Classification of soils in Scotland is an even more complex 
and baffling task. The geological foundation is older and 
in some respects simpler than in England. Large tracts of 
the mountains north of the Central Plain are on pre- 
Cambrian rocks with areas of granite. The coastal belt 
of the north-east coast (particularly round the Moray Firth), 


Inhabitants per sq. mile 

Reproduced by permission of 
George Philip & Son, Ltd. 


a cross-country belt on the north side of the Central Plain, 
and parts of the south, are on Old Red Sandstone. The 
Southern Uplands are mainly on the Silurian and in the 
Central Plain itself many formations appear, including 
Carboniferous Limestone and Coal Measures. The soils, 
however, are the product of the glacial period and usually 
consist of the crushed and ground-up remains of igneous 
and metamorphic rock. Profound chemical weathering 
has not taken place as in the south. The soils of 
the North, Central, and Southern Highlands are agricul- 
turally of little importance, while in the cultivated districts 
of the Central Plain and the coastal belts, boulder clay, 
Old Red Sandstone, reclaimed peat, alluvia, especially the 
carse lands of the river mouths, and raised beaches are 
scattered in considerable profusion. 

Another factor which has an important influence widely 
throughout the country, but has a special influence on the 
farming of certain favourably placed areas, is the concen- 
tration of industry and population. The total population 
of Great Britain in 1931 was nearly 45 millions. One half 
of the population is located in eight large, densely populated 
industrial areas, in most cases associated with coalfields. 
These areas stand out clearly on the population map. 
London and its surroundings is the largest. The others in 
England are the Black Country round Birmingham, with 
the Potteries round Stoke-on-Trent and the Northampton- 
Derby area not far distant; South-east Lancashire; the 
West Riding of Yorkshire; and the north-east coast round 
the Tyne, Wear, and Tees estuaries. Outside of England, 
the two industrial belts are the South Wales coal and iron 
area and the shipbuilding, iron and coal industries round 
Glasgow and the Clyde. 

Where this intensive industrialization occurs, it tends to 
outweigh to a large extent the physical features of altitude, 
soil, and climate. Bleak unfavourable hillsides such as are 
found in South-east Lancashire and in South-west Yorkshire. 


in Welsh valleys, and in parts of the country round Lanark- 
shire have become intensive regions for the production and 
sale of milk, while in less unfavourable parts market- 
gardening and other forms of intensive cultivation of perish- 
able products have taken advantage of proximity and easy 
access to large centres of population, an advantage which 
in days of less mobile transport and less well-organized 
marketing was greater than it is to-day. 

The relationship of all these factors of altitude, climate, 
soils, and the populous industrial centres with the farming 
is without the scope of this introductory essay, and is the 
main purpose of the essays which follow in this book. For 
the purpose of following further the general outlines of the 
farming of the whole country, a short resume of the main 
products of agriculture presents a different angle from that 
followed in the rest of the book. In this England and 
Wales are first dealt with, and Scotland is dealt with 
separately later. 

Wheat is grown to some extent all over England and 
Wales where the soil and conditions are suitable, but the 
greatest concentration is in the eastern arable counties, 
which account for almost half of the total acreage. Barley, 
though formerly ranking almost equal to wheat in acreage, 
occupies at present barely half the area. It is not nearly 
so widely distributed as wheat, because the conditions for 
growing good malting barley are more limited. Its culti- 
vation is for the most part confined to the east and parti- 
cularly to Norfolk, and it is grown in preference to wheat 
where light soils prevail. On the other hand, barley is 
closely associated with the chalk and limestone ranges of 
hills which slant across the Midlands of England from the 
Yorkshire and Lincoln coasts to Dorset. Oats is the most 
widely distributed of the cereal crops. Its total acreage in 
England and Wales is somewhat less than that of wheat, 
but a few years ago before the increase of wheat acreage 
which followed the introduction of the Wheat Act, 1932, 


the oat acreage was the largest of the cereal crops. The 
crop can be grown successfully in practically any district, 
and as both grain and straw are used extensively for stock- 
feeding on the farm, they tend to be of much greater 
importance as the staple cereal crop of the Midlands, the 
west, and the north. 

So much for the cereal crops. The root crops grown for 
sale on a large scale are confined to potatoes and, in the 
past ten years, sugar beet. Although potatoes are grown 
all over the country for local consumption, commercial 
potato growing tends to be very much localized. Only four 
counties have over 15 per cent of their plough land in this 
crop. These are Lancashire and Cheshire in the north-west, 
and the Isle of Ely and the Holland division of Lincoln in 
the east. Other important areas are to be found in the 
Yorkshire Vales of York and Pickering ; the north Lincoln 
district of the Isle of Axholme and the lower Trent ; the 
suburban farms round London; and on the sandstone soils 
adjacent to Birmingham. All of these smaller areas are 
located conveniently to large consuming centres. Sugar 
beet has been introduced into British farming only in the 
past decade. Its cultivation is governed not only by suitable 
soil and labour conditions but also by proximity to factories. 
Nearly 40 per cent of the total acreage is in Norfolk and 
Suffolk, and the greatest concentration is round the Isle 
of Ely. Lincoln and Yorkshire have together about one- 
quarter of the crop, and together the eastern counties from 
Essex to Yorkshire have about 75 per cent of the acreage. 
In the west the only important growing areas are round 
the factories of Allscott (Shropshire) and Kidderminster 
(Worcestershire) . 

The other root crops which are extensively grown are 
for winter stock-feeding. Turnips and swedes, the traditional 
root crops in the four-course rotation, and largely used for 
the feeding of sheep and fattening cattle, occupy the largest 
acreage and are generally grown on all arable land. They 


have become of much less importance recently, having been 
partly displaced by sugar beet. Mangolds are grown on 
about half the scale of turnips and swedes. Other feeding 
crops like cabbage, kohl-rabi, etc., are increasing in impor- 
tance, but still do not rank with the staple root feeding crops. 

In one sense, the most important "crop" on arable land 
in England and Wales is the rotation grasses and clovers. 
They occupy about a quarter of the arable land, considerably 
more than any other single crop. Nearly <z\ million acres 
are grown of which nearly two-thirds are cut for hay. 
Throughout the south and east, one-year leys are the 
general rule and are almost invariably cut for hay. In the 
north and west and in Wales the ley is frequently left 
down for several years, and in some parts less than half is 
cut for hay. Other crops, particularly vegetables, hops, 
and fruit tend to be confined to special areas, and are best 
left to the essays on the various regions. 

Live stock, it need hardly be said, plays a very large 
part in the farming of England and Wales, and in live stock 
farming dairying now ranks first in importance in most 
parts of the country. The density of dairy-stock varies 
greatly from 28 cows per 100 acres in Cheshire down to a 
mere 2 or 3 per 100 acres in some of the eastern counties. 

Dairying finds its natural home in the equable moist 
climate that prevails in Wales and throughout the western 
and west midland counties from Cumberland in the north 
to Cornwall in the south-west. The climate enables the 
herds to be maintained very largely on pasture and has an 
important influence on the cost of hand-feeding and shelter. 
Other factors, however, intervene to spread dairy farming 
over other areas as well, by far the most important being 
the proximity of large cities and towns, which gives us, 
for example, the density of dairying in the counties round 
London. Where the two factors, mild moist climate and a 
near-by dense population coincide, the highest intensity of 
dairy stock is found, as in South Lancashire, the Potteries, 


and the Black Country. The group of counties serving these 
industrial areas have nearly one-quarter of the cow popula- 
tion of England and Wales maintained on about one-eighth 
of the area. The next largest dairying region is of a different 
type, consisting of the mid-western counties of Somerset, 
Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Dorset. Here there is no 
large industrial area immediately accessible. Bristol and 
the South Wales iron and steel area are the most local 
markets. Formerly a great deal of milk was manufactured, 
but more and more the produce of this area finds its main 
outlet in London. There are comparatively few counties 
which can be said to be definitely non-dairying. They are 
all eastern counties with a high proportion of arable, except 
Northumberland, which is mainly a hill sheep county. 

The breeds of dairy cows are almost too well known to 
be mentioned. Dairy Shorthorns, Ayrshires, and British 
Friesians are the most universal. Jerseys, Guernseys, Red 
Polls and South Devons have their supporters and special 
districts. In Wales and the West of England, Herefords and 
Welsh Blacks and their crosses with the Shorthorn are 
popular, owing to their thriftiness and the keen demand for 
store-cattle of this type. 

The other main branch of the cattle industry, namely 
the fattening for beef, has lost some of its former position 
with the progress of dairying. Cattle fattening falls into 
two distinct categories, the fattening of cattle on grass, i.e. 
summer fattening, and the fattening of cattle in yards, 
i.e. winter fattening. Grass fattening is confined to very 
favourable grazing conditions and has tended to become 
more and more associated with a few famous areas. The 
most notable area occurs in the great clay belt of the Mid- 
lands, associated mainly with the county of Leicester and 
parts of adjacent counties. The Vale of Aylesbury and 
some of the coastal marshes, for example in Lincolnshire 
and Norfolk, are also well known for their fattening pastures. 
The system of management of fattening on the Leicester 


pastures will be found in the description of the east mid- 
land counties, and no more need be said about it here. 
The winter fattening in yards is traditionally associated 
with the Norfolk four-course rotation and belongs to all the 
distinctively arable counties. Store cattle of two years old 
are bought in the autumn and fed on home-grown fodder 
and on concentrates, and the straw trodden down in the 
yards provides plentiful supplies of dung for maintaining 
the fertility of the fields. The system has proved costly 
in modern times and has fast been losing its universal 

Another branch of the cattle industry, namely store- 
raising, is complementary to the fattening for beef and has 
for long been carried on independently of the fattening 
business. The rearing of cattle tends to be definitely asso- 
ciated with low-rented hill-grazing. It is carried on mostly 
therefore in the west, in Wales particularly. The eastern 
and midland counties are importers of store cattle in their 
respective seasons. 

Great Britain from its earliest history has been famous 
for sheep farming. One of the important exports of Britain 
in the early century, wool is still one of the few British 
agricultural products which has an export market, mainly 
for the coarse black-face wools from the mountains. The 
number of sheep in England and Wales is about 18 million, 
compared with 6| million cattle of all kinds and just over 
3 million pigs. Sheep farming falls into two distinct cate- 
gories, the one associated with arable farming and the 
other with grazing. 

The distinction is sufficiently marked that all the main 
breeds can be classed as either arable or grass sheep. In 
point of numbers the sheep population on grass is consider- 
ably more important than the sheep on arable land. The 
latter system is linked mainly with the arable farms on the 
chalk and limestone formations, already mentioned in 
connection with barley growing. There the sheep are folded 


on roots or green fodder crops and the treading and 
manuring of the light soil by the sheep is considered an 
essential feature of maintaining fertility on these soils. It is 
from this system that the Easter lamb trade is largely sup- 
plied. The Down breeds, or short wools, associated with 
the arable sheep system include the Hampshire Down, 
Shropshire Down, Oxford Down and Southdown (the 
parent breed), and the Dorset Down. 

The grass sheep systems are of two main kinds. In the 
hill districts, they graze the poor high-lying pastures in the 
summer. They are run on large areas or sheep walks. On 
farms where more lowland pastures are also available, the 
sheep are wintered there, but in other cases are "wintered 
away" on quite distant lowland farms. Hay is occasionally 
fed to the flock except with the hardiest breeds, but other 
foods are rarely given. There are numerous hill breeds, 
many associated with particular localities, the most impor- 
tant being the Scottish Blackface, the Cheviot, the Herdwick, 
the Lonk, the Wensleydale, the Welsh Mountain, the Clun 
Forest, the Exmoor Horn, and the Dartmoor. Lambs from 
the hill ocks are usually sold as stores in the autumn to 
lowland feeders, who finish them off on roots, with the aid 
of hay and concentrates. 

The lowland grass flock is of less importance numerically 
than the hill flock; it is usually much smaller, and may 
receive some extra feeding. The breeds used in this system 
where it has been long established are generally longwools, 
the commonest being the Lincoln, the Leicester, the Devon 
Longwool, and the Romney Marsh, and a great variety 
of crosses with the Down breeds. The crossing of longwool 
breeds with Down rams is perhaps the outstanding feature 
of post-war sheep management on lowland farms. The 
purpose has been to get a small and quick maturing lamb, 
which can be finished on grass in the summer without the 
aid of hand feeding. As with fat cattle, the age at which sheep 
are slaughtered for the market is nowadays much lower 


than formerly. The "fat teg" of over one year old is almost 

Pigs have never played a very large part until recently 
in British farming, as the number of just over three million 
in England and Wales shows. Pigs, being fed largely on 
purchased foods and presenting few problems of transport 
and requiring little land, can be kept almost anywhere, 
irrespective of soil, climate, or even situation. The produc- 
tion of pigs is, therefore, general but thinly dispersed over 
the country. One or two areas, however, stand out some- 
what, and these are associated with three types of situation : 
(i) suburban areas, such as Middlesex, Surrey, and the 
West Riding of Yorkshire, where there is available quantities 
of swill from household, hotel, and shop waste; (2) certain 
arable counties, such as Norfolk, Suffolk, Ely, Cambridge, 
and the Holland Division of Lincolnshire, where feeding 
barley and inferior grain and potatoes generally are avail- 
able; and (3) the dairy regions, where cheese-making pro- 
vides whey as a by-product, as in Cheshire, Lancashire and 
Shropshire, Somerset and Dorset, or where butter and cream 
provide a by-product of skim milk, as in Cornwall and Flint. 

Poultry is another type of live stock which is not tied to 
soil or climate and is widespread throughout the country. 
Although, however, almost every farm maintains a poultry 
flock of sorts, the density of poultry varies considerably 
throughout the country, and a high density appears to be 
exceptionally dependent on trade connections. In spite of 
the rapid expansion of recent years, the poultry industry 
still tends to confine its strongest development to areas 
possessing easy and well-established market connections 
with some large consuming area. The counties with the 
most dense poultry population are round the Lancashire 
and West Riding of Yorkshire industrial belts, and around 
London, both on the south-east and in the eastern counties 
north of London. It is, however, probably true to say that 
poultry have become in recent years everywhere a more 


serious and in some cases a more intimate part of the 
general farm, as well as showing a marked expansion on 
specialist farms. 

In all of this outline of the products of farming, England 
and Wales only have been dealt with. Scotland requires a 
separate outline, which can be simplified considerably as 
a result of much already said. Wheat is grown in Scotland 
on a comparatively small area, less than 5 per cent of the 
acreage in England and Wales. The large proportion, about 
80 per cent, is grown in the eastern counties of Berwick, 
the Lothians, Fife, Forfar, and East Perth. Very little is 
grown either north or west of these counties. The barley 
acreage is large but, as in England, more selected in its 
areas. The acreage follows a ribbon along the east coast 
from Berwick to the Beauly Firth. The crop extends much 
further north than wheat, and the coastal plain of Easter 
Ross, Inverness, Moray, Nairn, Banff, and Aberdeen, which 
grows little wheat, has more than one-third of the total 
barley acreage of Scotland. Practically none is grown more 
than 20 miles from the east coast. 

Oats is the universal cereal crop of Scotland. Its acreage 
outnumbers wheat and barley by nearly 6 to i, and has 
an area of over half that of England, as compared with 
4 per cent of wheat and 10 per cent of barley. Most counties 
have between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the arable 
land in the oat crop. Some of the counties with a small 
arable acreage have between 30 per cent and 40 per cent. 
The only county with less than 20 per cent of its arable 
land in oats is East Lothian, which is the most intensive 
wheat and barley county in the country. In the east, a 
large part of the oats is grown for sale, and in the west 
and the stock counties generally they are used for feeding 
stock on the farm. 

Potatoes are grown on a large scale on most of the arable 
land. The total area in the crop is between one-third and 
one-quarter that of England. The most intensive areas are 


the same as for wheat, namely, the Lothians, Fife, and 
Angus, and large acreages are grown in the north-east and 
throughout the Central Plain and on the Ayrshire coast, 
where a large part of the early crop is grown. Seed potato 
growing is an important feature in many areas. 

The feeding root crops are turnips and swedes and take 
up about one-eighth of the arable land. They are grown 
generally where there is arable land. Mangolds are rarely 
grown and sugar beet occupies an inconsiderable acreage 
around Fife, where the one Scottish factory is situated. 

Rotation grass is even more an important feature of 
Scottish farming than in England, nearly half the arable 
acreage being occupied with this "crop" as compared with 
less than one-quarter in England. The practice of sowing 
down a grass crop with oats and leaving the crop down for 
a period of three or more years is almost universal, and in 
some parts, particularly the whole of the north-east coast 
north of the Tay, rotation grass far exceeds the permanent 
grass in acreage. Over the country, the area of rotation 
grass is about equal to that of permanent grass (not including 
of course the rough grazings which occupy so large a part 
of Scotland), whereas in England the area of rotation grass 
is less than one-sixth that of permanent grass. 

The live stock industry in Scotland also presents some- 
what sharp contrasts. Although dairying is widespread in 
all farming parts, two areas stand out from all others (i) in 
and around the Glasgow and Clyde Valley industrial area 
and in North Ayrshire, particularly where the county has 
given its name to the most universal of the dairy breeds 
used in the West of Scotland, and (2) the extreme south- 
west, in Wigtown, Kircudbright, and in Kintyre, where 
farm cheese-making forms the basis of the farming. The 
beef cattle industry in Scotland, although also general in 
most parts, is particularly associated with the north-east, 
whence the Aberdeen-Angus name and breed is derived 
and whence the prime Scottish beef, which commands its 


premium in the London market, is exported. About one- 
third of the beef cattle are in the north-east from Aberdeen 
and round the Moray Firth, 20 per cent being in Aberdeen 
county alone. One-quarter of the beef cattle is in the 
counties of Angus, Fife, East Perth, and Stirling, while the 
beef industry is also important in the south-east and in the 
south-west where Galloway has given its name to one of the 
notable beef breeds. 

Store cattle raising is to be found in all the hill country 
between lowland and mountain, and in the glens which 
abound in the real Highlands. Owing, however, to a large 
number of Scottish farms having hill runs attached to low- 
land farms, there is less of a clear specialization in some 
parts between store-raising and fattening, as is to be found 
in England and Wales. The raising and sale of stores is, 
however, a specialized branch of farming in many parts, 
and a market for the stores is found in the fattening areas 
among beef producers who do not rear any or enough of 
their own animals. 

Sheep far exceed all other live stock in importance in 
Scotland, mainly because sheep hold the mountainous north, 
central, and south of the country. Sheep outnumber cattle 
over the country by over 6 to i compared with a mere 
2 or 3 to i in England and Wales. The greatest density is 
in the border counties of Berwick and Roxburgh, where 
the sheep number nearly 150 per 100 acres of all agricul- 
tural land (i.e. including rough grazings). Selkirk and 
Peebles, the neighbouring counties, are also high. Also 
ranking high are the two arable counties of East and Mid- 
lothian, which carry an average of about one sheep to the 
acre. The western counties of the Southern Uplands, Kir- 
cudbright and Dumfries, are also heavily stocked. The 
majority of the other counties carry between 40 and 60 
sheep per 100 acres of all agricultural land. Those counties 
less heavily stocked with sheep are the northern Highland 
counties of Inverness, Ross and Cromarty, and Sutherland, 


which carry between 20 and 30 sheep per 100 acres (a large 
number in view of the amount of land which is very rough 
grazing of a mountainous character), and the north-east 
arable counties of Moray and Nairn, which carry just over 
20 sheep per 100 acres. The various systems of managing 
sheep are dealt with in the regional essays on Scotland. 

Pigs have attained even less importance in the farming 
of Scotland than in England and Wales. In the southern 
counties of Great Britain the numbers of pigs are equal 
to about 40 per cent of all cattle. In Scotland they are 
only just over 10 per cent. Of the total number of pigs 
in Great Britain, Scotland contributes only 6 per cent. 
The small numbers are dispersed fairly evenly throughout 
all the more lowland parts and the main concentrations 
are around the large cities, especially Edinburgh, and in 
the cheese-making counties of the south-west. 

The total poultry in Scotland is about one-tenth that 
of England and Wales. As in the south, poultry flocks 
are to be found everywhere, but there is evidence that the 
more intensive commercial production is located within 
convenient access to the large markets. The one most 
notable exception is the Orkney Islands, where a very 
high population of fowls is maintained for an export trade 
of eggs to the mainland. 

By taking the products of farming one by one, as has 
been done in the past few pages, the impression may be 
given of a state of farming where specialization in produc- 
tion is the prevailing practice. Actually the contrary is the 
case. Very little complete specialization exists in British 
farming, though it is to be found with poultry and pigs, and 
to a large degree in the rich summer-fattening pastures and 
on the Highland sheep farms, and to a lesser degree in some 
forms of milk production. By far the largest number of 
farms, however, must be described as "mixed." Most farms 
have some arable and some permanent grass. Even where 
there is practically no grass, there is a variety of crops 


grown, and where the farms are all grass, the grass may 
be used for a variety of live stock enterprises. Most farmers 
produce many products and it is by no means unusual for 
a farmer's income to be derived from a dozen or more 
different sale products, ranging from wheat and beef-cattle 
to eggs and cider. The mixing of enterprises is partly due 
to a conservative desire to cover market and other risks, 
but it is also and perhaps mainly due to what is, or has 
been, a sound economy of dovetailing several enterprises 
to utilize land, labour, and capital to the best advantage. 

It is necessary, in reading the descriptions of farming, 
to bear always in mind this generally mixed character. 
The farming of Great Britain may be roughly said to con- 
sist of five main types : (i) arable farming, (2) dairy farming, 
(3) sheep farming, (4) cattle grazing, and (5) a general 
group of special types, ranging from poultry or pig keeping 
to market gardening and fruit growing, but the classifi- 
cation depends almost entirely on the emphasis placed on 
one or two of the products rather than on the production 
of these products to the exclusion of all others. In some 
areas, the conditions exclude entirely some farming enter- 
prises, as for example wheat or sugar beet or intensive 
dairying are excluded from the remote Highland parts, but 
they do not exclude the farmer who depends mainly on 
sheep having some acres of oats, some young cattle growing 
up for stores, a few milking cows for butter-making, and 
some poultry. It is this mixed nature of most of British 
farming which is its most striking characteristic. 

Three other features of British farming require a brief 
reference in this general outline, namely, the system of 
tenure, the size of farms, and the employment of labour. 
Up to the War, the system of tenure throughout the whole 
country was almost wholly a system of tenancy, the land 
being owned for the most part in large estates and let to 
tenant-farmers at a fixed annual cash rental. The con- 
ditions of the tenancy were governed by agreement between 


landlord and tenant, and by a special body of legislation 
known as the Agricultural Holdings Acts. After the War, 
a general movement towards the breaking up of the large 
estates took place and many tenant-farmers willingly, or 
of necessity, bought their farms. The detailed statistical 
information on the subject is somewhat unreliable, but 
official returns record that while the proportion of farmers 
who owned their farms before the War was about 10-12 per 
cent in almost every part of the country, by 1922 about 
25 per cent were owners. The official returns were not 
made after 1922, but a special inquiry in 1927 reported 
that the proportion of owner-farmers in England and 
Wales was 37 per cent. This is a very large change in the 
system of tenure compared with pre-war days, as it repre- 
sents that over 100,000 farms which were formerly occupied 
by tenants had become owner-occupied farms. The change, 
however, assuming that the movement has not gone on at 
the same pace since 1927, leaves the British system of 
agricultural tenure still preponderantly a tenancy system. 
In Scotland, where figures have been published up to date, 
the change is much less. In 1930, 79 per cent were tenant- 
farms, and in 1934, 76 per cent were tenant-farms. 

Contrary to a very widely held view, Great Britain is a 
country with a high proportion of small farms. The average 
size of holdings officially recorded is between 60 and 70 
acres, and between 60 and 70 per cent of all holdings 
recorded over one acre are less than 50 acres in size and 
only 3 per cent are over 300 acres. This proportion of small 
farms is general throughout the country. In England and 
Wales, for example, only three counties have over 80 per 
cent of their farms under 50 acres, and only three counties 
have less than 50 per cent under 50 acres. The former 
counties occur where intensive cultivation takes place in 
market gardening, fruit, potatoes, and suburban dairying. 
The counties with a small proportion of small farms occur 
where there is a large area of arable land which is not of 


the highest fertility or where sheep and cattle grazing, 
other than dairying, predominates. In Scotland, seven 
counties have more than 80 per cent of the holdings under 
50 acres. These are all, with two exceptions, Highland 
counties, where the figures are influenced by two factors, 
first the prevalence of the old "crofting" system and, second, 
the fact that many of the farms, although they have large 
areas of sheep walks, have only a small acreage of land 
under "crops and grass," and only the area of land "under 
cultivation" is recorded in the size of farm. The two excep- 
tions are Orkney and Shetland, where conditions and 
tradition favour the small croft. On the other hand, no 
county in Scotland has less than 20 per cent of its farms 
under 50 acres. The counties with the smallest proportion 
of small farms are Ayr and Kinross, where the percentage 
of farms under 50 acres is 39 in each case. 

Although, therefore, the majority of farms in Great 
Britain is small, and there is only a small proportion over 
300 acres, the larger proportion of the land, probably over 
two-thirds, is farmed in medium or large-sized farms of 
over 100 acres. Very large farms consisting of thousands of 
acres of crops or permanent grass are very few, but the 
medium scale on which the major part of the land is farmed 
provides considerable scope for the employment of wage- 
paid labour. 

According to the annual agricultural returns there are 
nearly 400,000 holdings in independent occupation in 
England and Wales, and about 75,000 in Scotland. A large 
number of the smallest farms are probably part-time occu- 
pation for men who have other sources of income, but 
roughly the number of full-time farmers in the country can 
be taken as between 300,000 and 400,000. 

The annual agricultural returns also give the number of 
wage-earners in agriculture. The total number of men and 
boys regularly employed in the whole of Great Britain is 
about 600,000. Women and girls regularly employed total 


about 71,000. The numbers returned of those casually 
employed is about 92,000 men and boys and about 37,000 
women and girls. The numbers have been declining in 
recent years, particularly in the employment of casual 
labour and of the younger males under the age of twenty-one. 

The employment of labour works out on the average for 
the whole country at about 20 regular male wage-earners 
and about 2 regular female wage-earners per 1,000 acres 
of farmed land. In Scotland, the average employment of 
regular male workers is only 17 per 1,000 acres and of 
regular women workers is 4 per 1,000 acres. Employment 
varies throughout the country mainly according to type 
and size of farm. Male employment is highest in areas of 
intensive crop cultivation found round the Fens and round 
London, all these eastern and southern counties employing 
over 30 men regularly per 1,000 acres, rising in Middlesex 
to over loo. The counties with the lowest employment of 
under 15 men per 1,000 acres are all typical grazing 
counties such as Leicester and Rutland in the Midlands, 
and Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland in 
the North. The majority of the Welsh counties employ less 
than 1 6 men per 1,000 acres, and none of the Welsh counties 
employs as many as 20. Employment in Scotland is generally 
lower. Only 6 of the 33 counties employ more than 20 men 
regularly per 1,000 acres. Three of these are the arable 
counties of Angus and East and Mid-Lothian. The others 
are Highland counties. Only one, namely Shetland, has a 
regular employment of over 25 men per 1,000 acres. All 
other counties in Scotland employ from 13 to 20 men per 
1,000 acres, the higher proportions being found in the 
dairy counties round Glasgow and in the north-east arable 
counties between Aberdeen and Inverness. The lowest em- 
ployment of 13 to 15 men per 1,000 acres is found in the 
border counties and in the extreme south-west. 

Employment of women regularly also varies considerably. 
In England, half the counties employ fewer than 2 per 



i ,000 acres, and employment of women is fairly high only 
in those counties with intensive cultivation round London, 
and in the Fens, where as already mentioned the employ- 
ment of men is highest, and to a lesser degree in the northern 
counties. In Middlesex the regular employment of women 
is nearly 25 per 1,000 acres, and in Norfolk and the Holland 
Division of Lincolnshire it is 10 and 8 respectively. The 
northern counties have round about 3 to 5 per 1,000 acres. 
In Wales, women are more uniformly employed, but the 
range of all counties is only between about 2 and 5 per 
1,000 acres. In Scotland, women are also more generally 
employed, but except in the Orkneys and Shetland where 
women are employed almost in equal numbers with men, 
the range per county is between 2 and 8 per 1,000 acres. 
Of the farming counties, employment of women is greatest, 
about 6 or 7 per 1,000 acres, in the counties of Clydeside, 
Ayr, Lanark, Renfrew, and Dumbarton, and to a slightly 
less degree in the Lothian arable counties. It is lowest in 
the border counties and in the south-west. 

This rapid summary of some of the facts of British agricul- 
ture necessarily leaves more things undealt with than are 
mentioned. It is in some ways easy to skim over the surface 
of the agriculture of Great Britain as a whole, but the 
variations and the "mixed" character of farming through- 
out the country have already been emphasized. A rapid 
sketch of the country cannot therefore hope to be adequate. 
More importance attaches to the other essays in this book 
which deal with the localization of British farming. 

Chapter II 

The North of England 





Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 


The North of England 

THE North of England Province consists of the adminis- 
trative counties of Northumberland and Durham to the 
east, and Cumberland and Westmorland to the west. It is 
bounded on the north by Scotland, on the east by the North 
Sea, on the south by the counties of Yorkshire and Lanca- 
shire, and on the west by the Irish Sea. From Berwick-on- 
Tweed on the Anglo-Scottish border to Darlington on the 
river Tees, the Province stretches for a hundred miles and 
is approximately the same distance at its widest part, from 
Hartlepool on the east to Whitehaven on the west. 

The total area of the province is approximately 5,300 
square miles of which 1,778,000 acres are under crops and 
grass and 1,230,000 acres are rough grazings. 

The province may be most conveniently considered in 
two divisions, east and west respectively. A casual glance at 
a contour map will explain why. Through the centre of the 
province from north to south, there runs a high range of 
limestone hills, the Pennines, familiarly described as the 
"Backbone of England." These hills rise to their highest 
point in Cross Fell, 2,930 feet above sea-level, and form an 
effective barrier to free communication between east and 
west. The Pennines also serve as a natural watershed from 
which the main rivers run in a series of parallel valleys 
eastwards to the North Sea. On the west, however, between 
the Pennines and the Irish Sea, there is a broken mass of 
higher hills including several peaks over three thousand 
feet which form the English Lake District, well known to 
the tourist and the rock climber. The Cumbrian Hills of the 
Lake District are separated from the Pennines by the fertile 
valley of the River Eden which runs northward to the Solway 
Firth, a wide inlet from the Irish Sea. In the north, along the 


Anglo-Scottish border are the Cheviot Hills, taking their 
name from the highest peak, the Cheviot, which is 2,676 
feet above sea-level. 

Since the prevailing winds are mainly from the west 
and south-west, rain-laden from the Atlantic Ocean, there 
is appreciably heavier precipitation in the western division 
of the province where the mean annual rainfall is about 40 
inches. Over the eastern division, the average rainfall is 
about 26 inches. The moderating influence of the Gulf 
Stream is evidenced by the narrow range between winter 
and summer temperatures, particularly in the west. 

While the physical features of soil, climate, and latitude 
have determined the character of much of the agriculture 
in the Province, certain economic features dominate the 
picture, particularly on the coastal plains of Durham, 
Northumberland, and Cumberland. If we exclude the 
higher slopes of the Pennines, and the upper valleys of the 
Tees, Wear, and Tyne rivers, then practically the whole of 
Durham county and south-east Northumberland is an 
important industrial area, economically dependent on the 
heavy industries of coal mining and coal exporting, ship 
building and ship repairing, and in north-west Durham and 
at the mouth of the River Tees, iron and steel making. In 
addition there are numerous subsidiary industries though 
some of these have declined during the last 40 years. In the 
west of the Province on the Cumberland coast there is a 
similar though very much smaller area surrounding White- 
haven, Workington, and Maryport. The striking contrast 
between the eastern and western divisions of the province 
in respect of the density and distribution of the population 
is sufficiently illustrated by the following facts relating to the 
year 1931. 

Northumberland has a population of 757,000 on an area 
of 1,279,000 acres, a density of 60 persons per 100 acres; 
Durham has a population of 1,486,000 on 628,000 acres, a 
density of 237 per 100 acres; Cumberland has a population 


of 263,000 on 969,000 acres, a density of 27 per 100 acres; 
and Westmorland has a population of 64,500 on 505,000 
acres, a density of 13 per 100 acres. The density of popula- 
tion in the two eastern counties together is 1 18 per 100 acres, 
and in the two western counties together is 22 per 100 acres. 
The eastern counties have nine towns of over 50,000 
inhabitants (Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Gates- 
head, South Shields, Darlington, West Hartlepool, Stockton- 
on-Tees, and Tynemouth), and thirty-two towns of over 
10,000 inhabitants. By contrast, the only town of over 50,000 
inhabitants in the western counties is Carlisle, and only four 
towns have over 10,000 inhabitants. 

Of the total population of Durham and Northumberland, 
amounting to almost 2j millions rather more than 80 per 
cent is located in a strip of about 24 miles inland from the 
east coast and extending from the River Tees in the south 
to some 20 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. As might 
be expected, this densely populated area is, from an agri- 
cultural standpoint, a consuming and importing area 
requiring a large measure of wholesale and distributive 
services. The western division, by contrast, is an exporting 

During recent years the highly industrialized eastern 
section of the province has suffered the unenviable distinction 
of being one of the so-called "Special Areas" which, owing 
to continued depression in the heavy industries, have 
provided some of the most intractable problems of unem- 
ployment relief. Despite this evidence of intensive 
industrialization, this part of the province in no way deserves 
the widely held opinion that its landscapes and scenic 
qualities are completely marred by forests of chimney 
stacks and unsightly pit waste heaps. On the contrary, 
there will be found in the heart of the coalfield itself, samples 
of rural beauty which will stand comparison with more 
widely acknowledged beauty spots in other parts of the 


From this angle, the western division, on the other hand, 
needs no advertisement, since it consists largely of the English 
Lake District which attracts a considerable volume of 
tourist traffic throughout the year. It may be mentioned, in 
passing, that, in addition to the wide range of interest 
which the province as a whole offers to the agriculturalist, 
the economist, and the tourist, there is equally interesting 
material to attract the historian, in the form of visible 
contacts with the Roman occupation of Britain (up to the 
fourth century A.D.), and the numerous peel towers and 
castles which recall the struggles and disturbances on the 
Anglo-Scottish borders before the political union of the 
two countries. 

Before proceeding to a detailed description of the dis- 
tinctive agricultural regions in the province, there are one 
or two general characteristics which deserve mention. 

Apart from the relatively intensive mixed farming in the 
industrialized parts of the province, the area as a whole 
is essentially one of live stock breeding and feeding, for 
which it is particularly suited because of its soil, climate, 
and topographical conformation. The variety which charac- 
terizes the physical conditions produces a corresponding 
variety in farm organization and practice, but the farmers 
themselves, taken as a whole, have acquired by traditional 
usage and experience a high degree of skill in the arts of 
the live stock breeder and in the management of grassland. 

So far as systems of land tenure are concerned the province 
reflects the same general tendencies as the rest of the country 
during recent years. The majority of farmers are tenant- 
farmers, and though there has been a marked increase 
since the Great War in the numbers of occupying-owners, 
the decision to purchase, in most cases, was the outcome of a 
desire for security against disturbance. 

Although there is a general trend towards the disintegra- 
tion of large landed estates, it is interesting to note that, 
in the industrialized eastern division of the province, there 


is an appreciable amount of agricultural land owned by 
colliery companies and industrial undertakings. Years ago 
when horse transport above and below ground was much 
more significant than it is to-day, the collieries provided a 
valuable market for locally produced oats and hay. The 
mechanization of mining transport, however, has caused a 
decline in this market and the main reason for agricultural 
landholding by colliery companies nowadays is that it 
enables them to deal more readily with the many claims by 
tenant-farmers for compensation for crop damage as a 
result of underground subsidence. 

A further important feature of the industrial part of the 
province which is not revealed by the official statistics is the 
extensive development of "allotments" by industrial workers. 
The "allotment" is usually a vegetable garden, producing 
for home consumption. It is often large enough to accom- 
modate a small piggery, a small poultry flock, or a green- 
house. As a supplementary source of income and as a 
hobby, the allotment has considerable social importance. 
Practically every town and village has its association of 
allotment holders whose scope and influence have been 
still further developed and encouraged during recent years 
for the purpose of relieving in some measure the economic 
distress arising from the depression in the heavy industries. 

Another factor of general significance throughout the 
area is the development of road transport. This will be 
referred to again in connection with the change-over from 
cattle breeding to liquid milk selling in the dales. Its 
influence is also shown, however, in the concentration of 
fat-stock marketing. During recent years the smaller country 
auctions, at which weekly and bi-weekly sales of fat stock 
were held, have experienced declining business, while the 
more centralized markets in the larger towns have shown a 
corresponding increase. 

In all parts of the province poultry farming is carried on 
both as a self-contained enterprise and in conjunction with 


mixed farming. While the majority of poultry flocks are 
found on mixed farms, the concentration of population has 
encouraged the development of many self-contained enter- 
prises. No one system of management can be said to be 
characteristic and considerable experimentation is going 
on in the effort to find the most economic way of dove- 
tailing the poultry enterprise with other mixed farming 
enterprises. Considerable progress has in fact been made in 
raising the general standard of poultry equipment ; in the 
selection of breeds and strains ; and in the general technique 
of poultry management. 

So far as hired workers are concerned it may be pointed 
out that throughout the northern counties the system of 
long-term hiring agreements is still general and characteristic. 
Workers are hired in May and November for terms of six or 
twelve months. On the larger farms, they are provided with 
cottages and on the smaller farms they live with the tenant 
or owner-occupier as the case may be. This system of 
engaging hired workers has an important social significance 
in that it tends to keep in employment men who might 
otherwise be stood off in slack periods. This tendency is 
illustrated by the fact that since 1921 the decline in agri- 
cultural employment throughout the province was largely 
confined to casual workers. In Durham county more 
particularly the numbers of regular workers have remained 
fairly constant, a fall in the numbers of women regularly 
employed being offset by a rise in the numbers of men 
regularly employed. It is noteworthy also that the em- 
ployment of women on general farm work is a common 
practice in the non-industrial parts of the province. In the 
industrial areas, when the industrial demand for labour is 
good, farmers have difficulty in securing women workers, 
but of recent years the lack of alternative employment has 
resulted in some increase in the numbers of women engaged 
in agriculture. Further, the effect of industrial competition 
for labour throughout the area has been shown by the steady 


migration of younger people from the rural areas to the 
towns, with the result that the present generation of farm 
workers includes a relatively high proportion of youths and 
older workers. 

Against the physical and social background previously 
described, it is now possible to discuss in more detail the 
distinctive farming regions in the province. These fall 
roughly into three main divisions : 

I. The East Coast Lowlands, consisting of 

(a) the industrial belt 

(b) the mid-Northumberland coastal area 

(c) Tweedside 

II. The Hill Country, comprising the higher slopes of the 

Pennines, Cheviots, and Cumbrian Hills 

III. The Solway Plain in North Cumberland 


(a) The industrial belt 

Throughout this part of the province, the prevailing type 
of farm is the mixed dairy and cropping farm producing for 
direct consumption, milk, mutton, beef, pigs, poultry, 
potatoes, and to a small extent, the coarser vegetables. The 
chief cereal crop is oats, grown mainly for consumption on 
the farm, while the acreage under wheat has expanded 
during recent years as a result of the country's fiscal policy. 
These farms range in size from about 50 acres to over 200 
acres. They are of the type which is described as the family 
farm in that, broadly speaking, according to the intensity 
with which they are farmed, they are of a size capable of 
providing a modestly reasonable standard of livelihood to an 
average family without recourse to hired labour. On most 
of these farms, the main enterprise is the milking herd which 
is usually supplemented by a small flock of sheep, a few 
pigs, and in many cases a small poultry flock. Practically 


the whole of the output from these farms is marketed within 
the area. 

Such commercial market gardening as there is in the 
province, it may be noted here, is centred round the large 
towns such as Newcastle and Tyneside generally, Sunder- 
land, Hartlepool, Stockton, Darlington, Morpeth, and 

(b) The mid-Northumberland Coastal area 

Moving northward through the eastern division of the 
province, the character of the farming changes as soon as 
the coalfield is left behind. The loams and alluvial soils 
overlying the coal measures give place to the cold boulder 
clay which is characteristic of the greater part of Northumber- 
land, stretching almost as far north as Tweedside. 

This is the type of land whose responsiveness to phosphatic 
manures was so strikingly demonstrated by the historic 
plots laid down at the Cockle Park Experimental Station, 
three and a half miles north of Morpeth. Throughout this 
part of the province, up to an altitude of about 400 feet 
above sea-level, will be found outstanding examples of 
skilled pasture management. The farms are large, ranging 
up to 2,000 acres in size, and producing high quality beef, 
mutton, and lamb. The land is mainly under grass, either 
temporary or permanent pasture, although between a 
quarter and one third of the acreage is devoted to roots and 
cereals (chiefly oats) for winter forage. 

Throughout the area, the changing public demand for 
beef and early lambs has stimulated a good deal of experi- 
mentation amongst the enterprising stockfeeders, and various 
crosses of the Galloway, Shorthorn, and Aberdeen-Angus 
breeds will be found on the grazing pastures. The typical 
sheep of the area is the well-known half-bred (Border 
Leicester ram X Cheviot ewe) which is again crossed with 
the various Down breeds, such as the Suffolk and Oxford, 
for early lamb production. Outstanding examples of this 


type of farming will be found in the district round 

(c) Tweedside 

Passing on to the northern edge of the province, the visitor 
enters Tweedside, a fertile valley of rich sandy loam, 
admirably suited to arable farming. Here the prevailing 
system of farming is a combination of beef, mutton, and 
lamb production, with such arable sale crops as barley, 
potatoes, and sugar-beet. The development of more intensive 
cropping is limited by the remoteness of consuming markets, 
and by the comparatively short, late summer. The same 
factors rule out milk production, and in fact, few of the farms 
are equipped for this form of enterprise. The proportion of 
land under the plough is high, and winter and summer 
feeding of cattle and sheep is the general practice. 


Moving westwards into the hills, the visitor enters one 
of the most important live stock breeding grounds not only 
of England, but of the world. The thin soils and open, 
treeless moorlands of the Cheviots and Pennines are the 
areas of rough grazings which figure so largely in the crop 
statistics. They are the breeding grounds from which the 
lowland farmers, not only in the province itself, but in the 
more southerly parts of the country, draw their supplies 
of store lambs and hogs for mutton production. Of the 
i6| million sheep in England and Wales in 1934, more than 
15 per cent were located in the northern province. 

So far as breeds are concerned, the Cheviots, as might be 
expected, predominate in the north; further south, on the 
poorer grazings, increasing numbers of Scotch Blackfaces 
appear, and yet further south, the strong Swaledales. On the 
high rocky fells of Cumberland and Westmorland, the hardy 
and picturesque little Herdwicks take pride of place. Cross- 


breeding is common, while a further interesting charac- 
teristic is the prevalence, on many of the hills, of "hefted 55 
stocks, i.e. flocks which are bound to their hills because of 
their acquired immunity from diseases. The spring and 
autumn sales of lambs, gimmers, and draft ewes throughout 
the area are notable events in the agricultural calendar. 

While the sheep hold undisputed sway on the exposed 
parts of the hills, the more sheltered slopes, particularly in 
the upper reaches of the river valleys, support extensive 
herds of breeding cattle. These are principally of the Short- 
horn breed, with still a preference for the dual-purpose 
type, although excellent herds of the Friesian and Ayrshire 
breeds will occasionally be found. Certain districts are 
specially noteworthy. For example, the valley of the Tees 
between Durham and Yorkshire is the original home of the 
Shorthorn breed, developed by the Brothers Colling, who 
farmed near Darlington about 1780. 

Allendale, a sheltered valley lying to the south of the 
Tyne, was famous thirty years ago as a breeding centre for 
excellent Shorthorn cattle. Since then the development of 
road and rail transport has gradually encouraged a change- 
over to the sale of liquid milk with a corresponding 
decline in breeding activities. The same tendency may be 
noticed also in most of the districts which have hitherto 
been regarded as mainly breeding centres. In fact, it may 
be mentioned that while the increase in the number of 
wholesale milk contracts over the country as a whole, as 
a result of the stabilization of milk prices by the recently 
created Milk Marketing Board, was 13-62 per cent, the 
northern province showed an increase of over 36 per cent. 

Throughout the counties of Cumberland and West- 
morland, particularly on the Solway Plain around Wigton, 
this same tendency is strongly in evidence and every country 
lane is dotted with the familiar platforms of milk churns 
awaiting the collecting lorry. The Cumberland Shorthorn, 
one of the best of the dual-purpose types, is now having to 


meet the competition of a variety of crosses of the established 
milk breeds. Nevertheless, Cumberland and Westmorland 
have long been one of the foremost breeding areas for 
Shorthorn cattle, and the sales of pedigree stock, which are 
held regularly at Penrith, are attended by buyers not only 
from all parts of Great Britain but also from overseas. 

Throughout these breeding areas the farms are mainly 
small, ranging between forty and one hundred acres. The 
breeders' art does not lend itself to large-scale organization. 
The smaller holdings serve admirably as the lower rungs of 
the agricultural ladder and many of them are occupied by 
one-time hired labourers. 

This brief survey of the important breeding activities in 
the province would not be complete without a passing 
reference to the area in North-east Cumberland, on the 
upper slopes of the hills, which is the recognized home of 
the Galloway cattle. This particular breed, crossed with the 
Shorthorn and/or Aberdeen-Angus, produces excellent 
stores for the feeders, and is particularly suited to the moist 
and harsh environment where it is found. 


The western part of the province is so dominated by the 
hill country that one is apt to lose sight of the stretch of flat 
country lying around Carlisle and along the shores of the 
Solway Firth. A narrow strip of lowland also runs round 
the Cumberland coast in the small space left between the 
mountains and the sea. Although a lowland area, the Solway 
Plain is not distinguished for its proportion of arable or of 
arable crops. Very little wheat or barley is grown. Oats, 
turnips and swedes, and rotation grasses, all for stock 
feeding, are the chief arable crops. Cattle, both beef and 
dairy stock, and sheep are the focus of the farm business and 
poultry are fairly widespread. 
The chief reason for giving this area separate recognition 


is because it illustrates in a striking way the reactions of an 
area formerly devoted to the breeding of beef and dairy 
stock to modern transport methods and milk sales organiza- 
tion. Taken in conjunction with what was said in the 
previous section about the importance of the area as a 
breeding centre, it is to be noticed that at Aspatria, some 
20 miles west of Carlisle, the Milk Marketing Board instituted 
one of the first of its own factories for the processing of 
surplus milk. A similar factory under private enterprise 
has operated in the same area for a number of years. 

Together with the rest of Cumberland and Westmorland, 
the area is an exporting region for milk, dairy, and poultry 
produce, which is sold in such adjacent areas as the north- 
east coast, North Lancashire and the West Riding of 
Yorkshire, and the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas in 

Chapter HI 

Lancashire and Cheshire 

University of Manchester 

0*400 ff 

County Boundaries * - 
fteg/ono/ Boundaries*** 



Lancashire and Cheshire 

THE province consists of the two counties of Lancashire and 
Cheshire. Its western boundary is the coast of the Irish Sea 
and its inlets. In the north and north-east it abuts the 
northern province, in the west the provinces of Yorkshire 
and the East Midlands, and in the south and south-west 
those of the West Midlands and of Wales. 

The total land area of the province is 1,830,000 acres of 
which 1,190,000 acres are classed as "cultivated land" and 
162,000 acres are in rough grazings used for agriculture, 
leaving 478,000 acres in non-agricultural use in towns, 
factories, or waste land. 

The highly industrialized character of a large part of 
Lancashire is a predominating feature of the province. 
Lancashire is still famous for its cotton industry, even if it has 
declined from its greatest heights of the past, for its engineer- 
ing, for its coal mining, and for a number of subsidiary 
industries which contribute to the support of its vast 
population. The area of the county is only about one- 
twentieth of that of Scotland, but the population of over 
five million people is greater than Scotland by some 200,000. 
The density of population over the whole county is nearly 
five persons per acre, the greatest of any county, except 
London, in the whole country. By far the greater proportion 
of this population is settled in the south-east of the county 
between the Ribble and the Mersey, in towns which occupy 
the valleys or slopes of the hills or on the bank of the Mersey. 
About 32 per cent of this vast population in Lancashire live 
in Manchester and Liverpool, both noted as shipping centres. 
A further 30 per cent occupy towns of over 50,000 inhabi- 
tants, and another 10 per cent are in boroughs of over 
20,000 inhabitants, all situated in the south and south-east 


of the county. Altogether 72 per cent of the county's popula- 
tion is in boroughs of over 20,000 people, situated in this 
industrial belt. The other large centres outside of this are 
Barrow-in-Furness (66,000), Lancaster, Morecambe and 
Heysham (together 68,000), Blackpool (with Fleetwood, St 
Anne's, and Lytham, (151,000), and Southport (79,000). 
From Barrow in the north to Liverpool in the south, the 
coast-line of Lancashire is almost entirely occupied by towns 
famed as pleasure resorts. 

In this respect, Cheshire differs from Lancashire, the 
density of population over the county is i 7 persons per 
acre, low beside that of its northern neighbour, but high 
compared with the majority of counties in England and 
Wales. Its most populous centres, Birkenhead and Stockport, 
which contain 25 per cent of the county's population, 
may be regarded as overflows from Lancashire's teeming 
industries. The large towns detached from the Lancashire 
border are Chester (41,000), Crewe (46,000), and Maccles- 
field (35,000). 

In physical features, these two counties form two links in 
the chain which runs from north to south of England. In the 
north-west, Lancashire includes mountains, lakes, and 
rough land generally which belong to the Lake District. 
In the north-east, it catches some of the fells of which the 
greater number are typical of Yorkshire. The highlands of 
these northern and north-eastern parts continue down the 
east side of the province, with a difference of character 
rather than of altitude, and fence off a widening plain on 
the west, which terminates first on the coast and later in the 
hills of Wales. Some outlets of the sea bite deep into this 
western plain, Morecambe Bay and the estuaries of the 
Ribble, the Mersey, and the Dee. The Ribble is still an 
important waterway to and from the docks of Preston, and 
the Mersey with its service of the Liverpool and Manchester 
docks is only less famous and less hard-worked than the 
Thames. The western plain varies from a gentle undulating 


country near the hills to a very flat tract near the sea, with 
stretches of low-lying land which might have been part of 
the Fens with its ditches, mires, and difficulties of draining. 

The main features of agriculture in Lancashire and 
Cheshire have long been set. The growing population of 
Lancashire has confirmed rather than changed them. In 
both counties, the farms on the average are smaller than in 
England as a whole. The average size of farms in England 
including all kinds of holdings recorded in the official 
statistics is 68 acres. In Lancashire, it is 41 acres, and in 
Cheshire it is 47 acres. The proportion of farms under 50 
acres in England is 62 per cent. In Lancashire it is 72 per 
cent, and in Cheshire 68 per cent. The proportion of farms 
over 150 acres in England is 13 percent, but for Lancashire 
it is only 3 per cent and for Cheshire 7 per cent. It should 
be remembered in this connection that these figures include 
only cultivated land and many farms in the northern hills of 
Lancashire may be small in respect of the land under crops 
and grass, but may have large acreages of rough sheep 
pastures attached to them. Nevertheless the industrialization 
of much of the province has accentuated the small scale of the 
farming in some parts. 

Although the farms are generally small, the employment 
of wage-paid labour is higher than the average for England. 
Male workers of all ages regularly employed are, on the 
average, 22 per 1,000 acres in England, while for Lancashire 
they are 29 per 1,000 acres, and for Cheshire 26. Women 
and girls regularly employed are also proportionately 
higher in numbers, being 5 per 1,000 acres for Lancashire, 
4 per 1,000 acres for Cheshire and only 2 per 1,000 acres for 
England as a whole. The employment of casual labour is 
about the same as for the rest of the country. The minimum 
rate of wages for adult male workers is about 325. to 355. a 
week, some shillings higher than in southern counties, but 
about the same as in the neighbouring northern counties. 

The system of tenure is still mainly that of landlord and 


tenant, but it is certain that Lancashire and Cheshire 
shared in the movement taking place after the War, whereby 
a large number of tenant farms were purchased by the 
occupiers. No official statistics are available to show the 
recent developments. 

The main outline of the farming of the province might be 
briefly summarized in one sentence. In the north, hill 
farming with sheep, stock-raising, and some milk; in the 
east, mainly milk and poultry for the vast industrial popula- 
tion; in the Lancashire coastal plain, arable land with in 
parts a high proportion of sale crops ; and in Cheshire, milk 
formerly devoted to the production of farmhouse cheese. 

The features already outlined enable us to divide the 
province roughly into five regions for a somewhat more 
detailed, though still very general description of the farming. 
These regions are : 

I. North of Lancaster 

II. Between the Lune and the Ribble 

III. East and South-east Lancashire, south of the Ribble 

IV. Merseyside and South-west Lancashire 
V. Cheshire 

A rapid tour of these regions will give us a bird's-eye view 
of the farming. 


This region is easily defined as the whole of the county lying 
north of the River Lune and the town of Lancaster, but it 
is necessary to remember the broken-off part of the county 
which lies north of Morecambe Bay. This corner which 
seems to have been bitten out of Cumberland and West- 
morland has an extremely mixed character. In the north of 
it, the hills rise to 2,500 feet. Lakes, tarns, and woods are 
features of the scenery, and the description of the hill 
farming in the northern province may stand also for this 


part. Further south, still in this detached portion of Lanca- 
shire, the hills decline from the greater heights, but the 
lower altitudes do not signify more amenable conditions. 
Some of the hardest, most rocky, least tractable land in the 
country is found in the middle of this outlying part of the 
county. Broken by rocks and possessed by bracken which 
cannot be controlled by cutting owing to the rocks, there is 
a considerable area from which little is produced. Here and 
there are free spaces with a few small fields on which cultiva- 
tion can be bestowed. 

Towards the south of the peninsula of Furness, the hills 
gradually melt into the lower undulating ground round 
Ulverston and Dalton. Again, the agriculture here resembles 
that of West Cumberland more than that of any part of 
Lancashire. The soil conditions, the methods of cultivation, 
the mixture of arable and permanent grass, the convenient 
if limited markets, are features common to these areas. 
Hills stocked with a hardy breed of sheep, a considerable 
stretch of useful land which might carry any class of stock 
and grow any kind of crop from the plough, have the town 
of Barrow-in-Furness convenient to themselves as a market. 
The mountainous part is geologically on the oldest rocks, 
on the volcanic or on the Silurian; the lower hills are on 
limestone or on Red Sandstone, with Alluvium by the river 
estuaries. The shape and situation of the peninsula of 
Furness, the mixture of farmland and towns, suggest that 
it might be self-contained, almost insular in character. There 
are variations in the surface soils, but for the most part they 
are boulder clay, useful loam, or black soil, and although the 
area is limited in extent, it is a part of the county where 
farmers have an opportunity of making attractive by good 
farming scenery attractive by nature. 

More of this detached corner of Lancashire has been 
ploughed in the past than in the present and could be 
ploughed, but on the balance the market for saleable crops 
has weakened. Oats, straw, and hay are, less in demand and 


the plough is used to provide food for live stock more than 
for the market. On the other hand, the number of cows in 
milk and the number of sheep have increased. These two 
branches of farming have been relatively profitable since the 
War. Permanent grass and rotation grass have been more 
heavily stocked, although this has been compensated by a 
reduction in the number of heifers reared. For generations 
the breeding ground for good, heavy dairy Shorthorns in 
the west has extended from the Border to just south of 
Lancaster. Some of the most beautiful cows of the breed 
have been reared in this part. They have been sold as 
heifers to farmers in the south, and have won honours for 
them in the show rings. This is still a big part of farming, 
but there is a smaller output to replenish the larger home 
herds of milking cows, or to enrich those further south. 
Leaving this detached corner of Lancashire to join the main 
part of the county again after traversing the part of West- 
morland which gives that county access to the sea, we find 
land which has much the same character as that already 
described. The fells of Westmorland and of the West Riding 
of Yorkshire give way to the lower hills of Lancashire, which 
lie on the east side of Morecambe Bay. Some of the limestone 
hills here present an unusual terraced appearance. There 
is too little soil over the rock to clothe it properly and 
produce good grazing, and it is hard in a different manner 
from that of the Coniston district. 

Comparing these two districts of this region, the reduction 
in the area under the plough between 1913 and 1931 was 
17 per cent in the detached corner and 37 per cent in the 
"mainland" district. The uneven country in which the 
Cumberland mountains end towards the south has been 
put out of plough cultivation more than any other section 
of the county, for in Lancashire as a whole the reduction in 
the ploughed area was only 16 per cent. The increase in 
milk cows was 21 per cent in both districts and in sheep 
about 27 per cent. 


Although this is a part of Lancashire where farms by the 
nature of the country should be large, there are still 56 per 
cent of the holdings which do not exceed 50 acres in extent. 


The two rivers, the Lune and the Kibble, adequately define 
this region, but marked off by towns it consists of the whole 
width of the county from Lancaster to Preston. The road 
from Lancaster to Preston approximately divides this region 
into the hill district on the east side and the level plain on 
the west side. 

The eastern side of the region is fringed with the fells 
or the grouse moors which run into Yorkshire not far behind 
the ridge visible from the Lancaster-Preston road. The 
limestone country and the small fields of North Lancashire 
end north of Lancaster and the river Lune. The Millstone 
Grit meets with them, and with it the character of the 
scenery and farming changes. This formation runs south- 
wards along the western slopes pf the Pennines with few 
interruptions and provides the foundation of most of the 
agriculture of East Lancashire. The Lune Valley itself is 
one of the fine and distinctive things in English scenery. 
With the highest of the Yorkshire fells rising as barriers in 
the east and its own workable land in the bottom and on 
its not too steep and not too heavily wooded slopes it offers 
a tamer and more fertile beauty than the more northerly 
section of the county. 

Mostly small farms with the major part of their area in 
grass occupy the greater part of this area. Moors, shared 
exclusively by grouse and sheep, run out to the Yorkshire 
boundary which pushes itself aggressively to within a few 
miles of the Irish Sea. The comparative remoteness of the 
district together with other features suggests that it is 
eminently suitable for rearing young stock, but the drift of 
forces has altered that. Milk production more than ever, 


heifer-rearing a little less, sheep and poultry are the principal 
branches of farming here. Motor haulage has brought what 
was formerly an outlying district within easy reach of markets 
and the troublesome surplus supply of milk is increased from 
farms in Bleasdale and on the slopes of the fells. Preston is 
an important centre from the farmers' point of view. It has 
three live stock markets in the week. Buyers from every 
quarter meet sellers from as many. 

In the western half of this region south of the Lune, we 
make our first acquaintance with the plain of Lancashire. 
There seems to be no physical reason why this section of 
the county, the Fylde, should not be as completely under the 
plough as any in the country. The soil is workable and would 
grow any kind of crop, but for generations it has been 
predominantly under grass. Before the change over to the 
sale of milk became so general, this was the centre of 
Lancashire cheese-making. A green, level, fertile country, 
it resembles a part of Cheshire more than any other and the 
reasons which made Cheshire a cheese producing county 
were also operative here. 

Towards the coast and in the Kirkham district, a con- 
siderable proportion of the land is ploughed and in the 
neighbourhood of Blackpool market gardening and intensive 
cultivation generally are extending. Moss soil and mixtures 
of moss and sand, which are so common here and in the 
Ormskirk-Southport district, and generally in the South- 
west Lancashire region, lend themselves to the most pro- 
gressive methods. Farmers who feed these soils find in them 
the most friendly nurses of heavy crops. On the many soils 
which are on the light side, in times gone by farmers repaired 
this particular weakness by digging out the marl which 
frequently underlies the sand and mixing heavy and light to 
produce one of the most useful combinations attainable. The 
whole of the Fylde is marked with marl pits, disfigured like 
a face stricken with smallpox. The fertility thus created by 
hard and skilful labour still operates in hundreds of places, 


but the exhaustion of it on the other hand obtrudes itself by 
comparison. These lingering results of marling, showing 
themselves here and there in crops of grass, represent gene- 
rally a higher standard of cultivation than that reached 
with the help of substitutes for marl. 

It was in this area that the poultry industry in its present 
intensive form took root and from which it has spread. A 
few farmers who specialized in breeding for egg production 
became famous. Poultry keeping as a branch of farming and 
not as a casual adjunct to it was shown to be profitable. The 
county of Lancashire as a whole has retained the lead in 
developing the industry which took its origin here and the 
fowl population of Lancashire is now about 50 per cent 
greater than its human population. Needless to say the 
industry has not escaped the drawbacks which it has 
encountered elsewhere in the diseases which have arisen from 
the forced development. 

Blackpool, a name hardly less famous than Manchester, 
providing holiday recreation and entertainment as a play- 
ground for men, women, and children not only from Lanca- 
shire, but from distant parts of England and Scotland, 
provides this district of the Fylde with a market basis of its 
farming no less good than its soil basis. 


South of the Ribble begins the district where the industries 
other than agriculture have planted themselves so thickly, 
for the most part on the hilly eastern side. The little towns, 
the hardly broken lines of extended villages, and the big 
towns look as if some giant fellow had strode over the whole 
of this area broadcasting the seed of these things in a careless 
manner, some of the seeds germinating badly, some less 
badly, some well and others in splendid manner, so that all 
sizes of urban development from little villages to the great 
cities were the uneven but widespread crop, straggling here 


and there, but likely in time to tiller and gather root. One 
may in places think in driving through parts of this area 
on a main road that a beautiful stretch of unspoiled country 
has been found, but a turn to left or right would reveal a 
deep cut watercourse, with an iron work or a paper mill 
in the bottom, its chimneys hidden below the banks and the 
habitations sticking to the steep sides of the valley. 

The farming is distinctly influenced by the industrial 
character of the whole region more than by the physical 
features, for much of it lies at altitudes and on a type of soil 
where normally one would not expect to find an intensive 
output. The farms are thickly dotted over the hillsides. They 
are generally too small for full-time farmers. They were 
measured off at a time when men were part-time weavers 
or quarrymen and part-time farmers. The farms added to 
an income and did not provide it completely. Before the 
factories were built, men carried the yarn from the towns 
to their houses on the hills and returned it woven from the 
handlooms. When the factories grew, and with them the 
towns, they increased the number of their cows and became 
farmers and milk-retailers, instead of being farmers and 
weavers. And now a man with 11 or 15 acres, and getting 
the last penny which milk will yield, keeps one cow to the 
acre, feeds it generously enough on purchased food, and is 
classed as a farmer. Out of over 200,000 acres in this section 
very few thousands are ploughed. Climate and soil have 
contributed to this. The climate is cloudy and wet. The 
altitude is high. Crops grow, but often do not ripen. If they 
do, they are often spoiled by rain. The soil is acid on the 
Millstone Grit. It does little to keep itself in condition. On 
the whole, the suggestion made by circumstances to farmers 
is not to be farmers there ; if they are, the suggestion is that 
they should not grow corn, but grass which does not require 
a great deal of sun. 

The farms, villages, and towns are so intermingled among 
these hills that the market for milk is brought close to the 


cows. Scores of milk floats enter each of the East Lancashire 
towns and villages. In their capacity as salesmen, farmers 
get rid of their milk and eggs to the best advantage. Com- 
petition is keen, especially in this period of unemployment 
and short time. The personal connection between farmer 
and customer counts for a great deal as it does with shop- 
keeper and customer. 

From the agricultural point of view, the aspect of this 
countryside is not attractive. There is a comparative dullness 
in the best farmed grass as against well farmed arable land. 
The more vivid green of young corn, the clean, fresh, 
brown or dark soil prepared for roots and potatoes, the 
crops of good rotation grass put life into a farming landscape. 
It needs active cultivation of grass to make it approach this 
in variations of one colour of green, but when, as in the 
West Riding of Yorkshire and in East Lancashire, grass is 
allowed to look after itself, when the soil is short of lime and 
phosphate, when it is never opened and stimulated by 
cultivation and when a large proportion is ungrazeable, it 
makes an ugly picture. In the county as a whole, 72 per 
cent of the workable area is under permanent grass. In 
East Lancashire this percentage must be about 95. 

The foothills in the west of this industrial region, forming 
a boundary with the next region of Merseyside and South- 
west Lancashire, has lent itself partly to the plough. Potatoes, 
oats, and wheat are cash crops, but cows have grown in 
number and with their increase permanent grass has 
encroached on the ploughed land. Nothing in the agriculture 
here arrests the attention, unless it be the occasional sections 
where it has deteriorated to a shocking extent. There is no 
consecutive high standard at all, and it might be said to be 
interrupted by mining and by different kinds of urban and 
industrial growth. Strip development of buildings, which 
has been a cause of complaint in the last fifteen years in 
many parts of the country, might have been a grievance here 
for generations. Houses, sometimes scattered, more often in 


rows, occupy the frontages. The fields are hidden behind 
them. They have been cut and carved, and probably where 
this has taken place a sort of blight falls on the practice 
of agriculture. Nothing of estate management and nothing 
of "home farms" exercises a good influence on the farming 
in general. There are "farming families" attached to the 
district, but the market more than pride in the farms seems 
to hold them. There are men who have learned to farm 
well here, who say they are going to stay long enough to 
make some money, but that as soon as they have done so, 
they mean "to go to the country" to farm. By the country, 
they mean a southern or eastern county where the air and 
water, trees and crops are clean. 


This region consists of the plain on the west side of Lanca- 
shire, south of the Ribble, and the valley of the Mersey above 
and below Manchester. To the east of Manchester, there is a 
stretch of moss which runs to near Ashton-under-Lyne. To the 
west of Manchester there is Chat Moss and other stretches 
of moss which run almost to Warrington. In an irregular 
area between St. Helens and Ormskirk and again on the 
west side of the road from Liverpool to Preston, much of the 
soil is moss, some of which lies below the level of the sea and 
is drained by pumping. Towards the coast this soil is mixed 
with sand and provides the basis for the most intensive 
farming in the county. Generally it is used to grow potatoes, 
but in addition to this it is used for all market garden crops. 
West of Manchester from the time of early rhubarb to the 
time of celery, the harvest goes on. Train-loads of lettuces 
leave wayside stations for southern markets. 

A significant fact about considerable areas of this land 
is that their settlement for agriculture was comparatively 
recent. Moss land had to be drained and the expense and 
difficulty led to its postponement till the eighteenth century. 


The work of reclamation has proceeded slowly since that 
time and there are still stretches of raw, unbroken moss 
between Manchester and Warrington which await the 
enterprise of pioneers. Some of the older generation of 
farmers, who reclaimed all or nearly all the land which they 
now farm by literal back-aching spade work and expenditure 
on lime or marl and the patient waiting for results, say that 
the younger generation will never undertake the labour 
they performed. A historian of railway engineering writing 
of the railway laid across Chat Moss by George Stephenson 
says, "Chat Moss is an immense peat bog of about twelve 
square miles in extent. In most places, it is so soft that it is 
incapable of supporting a man or a horse, and if an iron rod 
be placed perpendicularly on its surface, it sinks by its own 
weight to a depth of some thirty feet. Unlike the swamps of 
Cambridge and Lincolnshire, which consist principally of 
soft mud and silt, Chat Moss is a mass of soft vegetable pulp, 
the growth and decay of ages." The names of Roscoe and 
Wakefield are associated with the drainage and cultivation 
of much of Chat Moss long before George Stephenson 
drove his railway across it. John Chorley did the same for 
Rainford Moss. 

The soils produced by reclamation at heavy cost are 
valuable, even if now the reclamation would not repay the 
labour. Holt, in his survey of the agriculture of the county in 
1795 says, "Trafford Moss was formerly not worth one 
shilling per acre, but such of it as has been drained is now 
reckoned worth about 3 per acre per annum," and again, 
"Bootle Marsh, in the neighbourhood of Liverpool, was let 
before being improved at ten shillings per acre, and is now 
worth about 3." To-day, no soil produces such heavy 
crops. If abundance of manure is given in a warm and dry 
summer, the moisture in the soil makes it a forcing ground 
for every kind of crop. The average yield of potatoes on 
well-managed farms over a series of years is more than 10 
tons per acre. 


Where the moss is mixed with sand, or where sand pre- 
dominates, early potatoes are grown, for sand if it does not 
keep the moisture catches the heat and with generous 
treatment of dung will force early development. It is in this 
area of soils so easily worked, so quick in action, that the 
percentage of ploughed land is so high. In an extent of 
over 50,000 acres there is 90 per cent under the plough. 
The farming is good. Rents are high, and men who do not 
get a big yield from their land go out. If visitors wish to see 
living of a high standard, they may drive from Southport to 
Bickerstaffe and from Bickerstaffe to Liverpool. The farms 
generally are not large. The farming has produced men with 
leisure and with ambition for education. They have been 
workers with their hands. They have been steady and 
thrifty and have come through bad times without serious 
losses. Probably more than in any other part of the county 
and certainly as much as in any part of the country, 
farmers here take a pride in their work and their cultivation 
is finished and tidy. 

This region is the centre of potato growing. Over-con- 
centration on this crop has brought pests which have made 
its cultivation risky. During the War, a large increased 
acreage of potatoes was planted to increase the food supply, 
and in the years immediately following they were planted to 
obtain the high prices. They came too often in the rotation. 
Farmers are now lengthening their rotation and reducing 
the area under potatoes. Other counties, however, have 
increased production, so that Lancashire has not benefited 
in price as a result of the reduced supply in the county. 
Lancashire grew 45,571 acres in 1913 and only 37,180 acres 
in 1934. Lincolnshire, on the other hand, had 75,890 acres 
in 1913 and 108,938 in 1934. Potatoes from the eastern 
counties and from Ireland have a higher reputation for 
quality than those of Lancashire, and it is only by a higher 
yield, if this is possible, that the growers on the dark soils 
can hope to equalize. 


Alongside of potatoes, West Lancashire farmers grow 
cabbage and other green crops. There is a steady local 
market for these, but the great profit from these crops comes 
when drought hits the south and south-east of England and 
the London buyers come north. Sometimes also a spring 
frost which affects the London area misses the low-lying 
area of Lancashire near the sea. At these times, a few acres 
of cabbage will give financial returns greater than those from 
the rest of the farm. 

Glass-house cultivation is extending in the whole area 
of West Lancashire. Climate, soil conditions, and markets 
favour it. The coast-line of the county from Morecambe 
Bay to Liverpool is occupied by crowded holiday resorts, 
and market gardeners working on the soil close behind them 
have not been slow in producing the lettuces, tomatoes, and 
flowers for which there is a demand. Their success as 
growers opens markets for them far beyond their own 


The Mersey separates Lancashire from Cheshire almost 
along its whole course. As is so common in the country as a 
whole, a change in the county coincides with some change 
in the agriculture. This is modified by the influence of the 
Manchester market, and does not hold in the eastern 
portions of both counties. Whether it is the West Riding of 
Yorkshire, East Lancashire, East Cheshire, or Derbyshire the 
slopes of the Pennines are devoted to one kind of farming, 
to the production of milk, where the land is less adapted for 
the use of the plough, and given up to grass and hay. For a 
few miles south of the Lancashire boundary the factory 
towns cling to the sides of the hills, or spread along the 
narrow valleys and more level ground close to them, and 
farmers find their markets for milk close to their cowsheds. 
Along the south side of the Mersey to the west of Man- 



Chester and down through the centre of the county mixed 
farming is more common over a larger area than in Lanca- 
shire. Men who grow large areas of corn, of potatoes, early 
and late, keep large herds of cows. There are many districts 
where the soil is too light, more probably than where it is 
too heavy, and the character of a leading dairying county 
which Cheshire has held for centuries is not due to any 
peculiar quality of soil which renders it unsuitable for other 
purposes. Clay and sand and mixtures of them are dis- 
tributed over the greater part of the county. In the Nantwich 
district, in Broxton, and along the Dee Valley south of 
Chester, and in the Wirral, there is a great deal of clay. 
This is not the place to discuss the reasons for developments 
of farming in different directions, to inquire why Cheshire 
farmers have reduced their acreage under potatoes, while 
English farmers generally have increased theirs. In 1900 
there were 25,514 acres under potatoes in Cheshire and 
396,936 in England; in 1934 there were 20,496 in Cheshire, 
a decrease of 19*67 per cent and 487,558 in England, an 
increase of 18-58 per cent. The aggressive development of 
potato growing in the rest of the country was accompanied 
by, and probably was one cause of, its shrinkage in Cheshire. 
No doubt there have been financial reasons of which the 
farmers have become sensible, and it is reasonable to think 
that their inclination would be to expand in dairying rather 
than in crop growing, and that they would use the plough 
to raise food for cows rather than for sale. Since 1900 they 
have increased the number of dairy cattle from 107,406 to 

J 39>999> or b y 3*34 POT ce nt 

Traditionally a dairy county, the most significant change 
which has taken place in Cheshire since 1925 is in the 
destination of the milk produced. There has been an 
accelerated decline in the amount made into cheese on the 
farms, and a corresponding increase in the amount sent to 
market in liquid form. This change will probably be per- 
manent and far-reaching. When cheese was made at home 


the operation called for the labour of the women members 
of the family. The cheesemaking farms were not on the hills. 
They were mostly in the best parts of the county. They were 
comparatively large, and the herds and quantities of milk 
were large. Cheesemaking was heavy and exacting work. It 
required a great deal of skill, watchfulness, and care. The 
responsibility for avoiding any accidental injury to the whole 
yield from a milking was serious, and every day till midday 
the women were engaged in this task. This direct and active 
engagement of women in the operation on the farms from 
which most of the revenue came seems to have had the most 
significant influence on the results. Cheshire, like all other 
counties, has been through agricultural depressions, when 
the prices of its produce have been very low. But it is doubtful 
if the body of farmers in any other county have stood the 
shocks and held their ground so firmly. In looking for the 
explanations of this steadiness, there is nothing which 
suggests itself so forcibly as this feature of farm economy. By 
standards which might be considered not unreasonably 
high this task imposed on women, with the discipline 
involved in it, is too stern. But there it has played its part 
for generations. It may be inferred, and probably affirmed 
with truth and justice, that where women are brave enough 
and strong enough to perform an essential and critical part 
of the productive work with the interest of full participants 
in the business the structure of the organization is rendered 
strong enough to stand any strain. The influence of this 
participation must have been decisive, and the history of 
agriculture here differs from its history in most other parts 
of the country. Not only habits which are thrifty, but 
activities which are fruitful are the contribution of Cheshire 
farmers' wives and daughters to agriculture. In farmyards 
to-day there may be seen handsome and expensive cheese 
vats devoted to inferior purposes. It is a sign of a revolution. 
The Milk Board will doubtless make good Cheshire cheese 
in its factories, but this cheese will have lost the individual 


touch which was given to so much of it by skilful handling 
in the farmhouse, and which made it famous in the hotels 
and clubs of London. Cheshire farmers have moved in large 
numbers into North Shropshire, and in considerable numbers 
into Wales, and have taken their system of farming with 
them. A few Welsh farmers have crossed the boundary to 
redress the balance. 

Cheesemaking has been complemented by pig-feeding. 
The whey from the cheese has formed the basis of the feed, 
and Cheshire bacon and ham have been appreciated hardly 
less than Cheshire cheese. When employment and wages 
are high in Lancashire, miners and other men who work 
hard do not grudge good prices for the food which sustains 
them best. 

Like Lancashire, Cheshire is a county of small holdings. 
Out of a total of 10,493 holdings 7,181 are not over 50 acres, 
and there are only fifty-six above 300 acres. The proximity 
to Lancashire markets has served as a foundation for the 
success of small farmers. The change from cheesemaking 
to the sale of liquid milk by hundreds of farmers will make a 
difference. It has added to the embarrassment of the Milk 
Marketing Board. Ten years ago the district south of Chester, 
nearly all under grass and with its heavy stock of cows, 
employed a large number of men per 100 acres. Since that 
time there has been a growing resort to the milking machine, 
a movement which will slightly reduce the labour employed. 
This adoption of the machine is much more general among 
the large herds in the plain of Cheshire than it is among the 
smaller herds on the hills of either county. And apart from 
milking, the care of cows will always call for a comparatively 
large staff of men. So long as the first are maintained the 
numbers of the second will not be seriously diminished. 

The agriculture of this part of England represented by 
these two counties has not changed materially in the course 
of centuries and it is not likely to change. The influences of 
soils, markets, and climate have been playing with con- 


sistency in shaping the system, and unless some unexpected 
experience of the markets occurs the soft green fields of 
Cheshire and of the Fylde of Lancashire will prove them- 
selves supremely suitable for the production of milk and its 
derivatives. With a slight difference the hills all along their 
eastern borders serve the same purpose, and if they are 
required to produce more the call on them will most likely 
be for more live stock, more sheep, more poultry, and even 
more cows rather than for corn. If the plough is wanted it 
may be for grass, for potatoes, and for green vegetables. 

The most interesting aspect of agriculture from the 
economists' point of view is the intelligence and spirit shown 
by the farmers, landlords, and workers in its development. 
From what has been said it will be evident that there is no 
lack of enterprise. Lancashire has broken ground with 
poultry, and leads all other counties by a long distance in 
the number of fowls kept. A movement which is as remark- 
able as any is the change in attitude towards research and 
education which has come over the farmers. The larger 
resources placed at the disposal of the county authorities 
have enabled them to extend scientific knowledge more 
widely. The farm institutes with the dairy schools and 
demonstration farms attached to them enable the staffs to 
educate a percentage of the young men and women from 
the farms. Lectures and discussions in numerous centres 
bring before a much larger circle of experienced men the 
latest discoveries of research on problems with which they 
are actually confronted. 

Chapter IV 

The Ridings of Yorkshire 

University of Leeds 



The Ridings of Yorkshire 

THIS province consists solely of Yorkshire, which for adminis- 
trative purposes is divided into the three Ridings, North, 
West, and East. The land area of the county is 3,876,000 
acres, of which 2,519,000 acres are under crops and grass 
and 722,000 acres are rough pasture in agricultural use, 
leaving 635,000 acres of land in non-agricultural use. The 
county is the largest in England and Wales, and has about 
one-ninth of the agricultural land of the country within its 

The large proportion of the county is entirely rural in 
character, but in the south-west corner lies the densely 
populated area famous for its woollen, coal, iron and steel 
industries. The total population is roughly 4^ millions, of 
which 75 per cent are to be found in the industrial West 
Riding, though this forms only 43 per cent of the total 
area of the county. The industrial area includes the cities 
of Sheffield and Leeds, which together have almost a million 
inhabitants, and another million is housed in boroughs of 
over 20,000 inhabitants in the industrial part of the West 
Riding. The density of population of the county as a 
whole is 119 persons per 100 acres, but in the West Riding, 
which includes the industrial belt, the density is 206 persons 
per 100 acres. 

Outside this famous industrial belt the only other densely 
packed centres of population are the iron and steel town 
of Middlesbrough (138,489) at the mouth of the Tees in 
the North Riding, the large seaport of Hull (313,366) 
on the Humber in the East Riding, and the holiday 
resorts round Scarborough and Bridlington on the east 

Although the county taken as a whole is thickly popu- 


lated and provides a large consuming public, it cannot be 
said that the whole of the agriculture of the county finds 
a market at its very doors. Many areas are distant from 
the industrial belt and were until recently comparatively 

The physical features of the county also vary considerably. 
To the west are the Pennines rising in many places to over 
2,000 feet. The chain of these hills is broken by a narrow 
belt of relatively low altitude through which the Aire has 
made its way and makers of roads, canals, and railways 
have found easy means of communication. North of this 
Aire Gap the Pennine Heights consist mostly of an elevated 
plateau of Carboniferous Limestone on which stand the 
Yoredale rocks, capped with Millstone Grit. South of the 
Aire Gap, the rocks consist mainly of Millstone Grit and 
Coal Measures. The division is even more pronounced 
economically since in this hilly country south of the Aire 
Gap lies the great Yorkshire coalfield. The Aire for the 
most part forms the northern boundary of the industrial 

In the east of the county lie two distinct upland masses. 
To the north, the North-east Uplands of the Cleveland 
and Hambledon Hills consist of Jurassic limestone, sand- 
stone, shale and clay, while south of these and separated 
from them by the upper valley of the Derwent, lie the 
Chalk Wolds. 

Between the hilly sections of the west and of the east, 
lies the great Plain of York, stretching from north to south 
in the middle of the county, and drained by the Ouse and 
its many tributaries. Two other lowland areas require 
special mention. To the north between the Tees and the 
Cleveland Hills lies the Cleveland Lowland, and to the 
south-east between the Wolds and the North Sea and 
Humber estuary lies the plain of Holderness. 

The rainfall in the county varies in different districts 
from 20 to 80 inches, with the highest rainfall on the upper 


slopes of the Pennines, and the lowest in the low-lying 
plain of Holderness. To the west of a line following fairly 
closely the Great North Road, rainfall varies from 30 to 
60 inches in the typical grassland country, and, to the 
east of that line, between 20-30 inches in the typical arable 

Geologically, practically every formation, certainly from 
the Carboniferous to the most recent outcrops, occur in the 
county, and consequently almost every type of farming is 
to be met with within the "County of Broad Acres." In 
addition, a very high proportion of the national production 
of certain special crops, like chicory, liquorice, rhubarb, 
flax, carrots, and peas is produced in the county. 

For the whole county the distribution of size of farms is 
not markedly dissimilar from the rest of the country, but 
over a large proportion of the area farms of a larger size 
predominate. In England and Wales, 20 per cent of the 
holdings are over 100 acres. The corresponding figure for 
the East Riding of Yorkshire is 35 per cent and that for 
the North Riding 29 per cent. In the West Riding, however, 
only 15 per cent of the farms are over 100 acres; while 
more than 70 per cent of its total agricultural holdings do 
not exceed 50 acres in extent. 

In spite of the relative intensity of the farming method, 
and the many intensive crops grown, the labour employed 
is by no means high. The employment of regular male 
labour over 21 years of age is 13 per 1,000 acres in the 
East and West Ridings and 10 per 1,000 acres in the North 
Riding, compared with 17 per 1,000 acres over England 
and Wales. The regular employment of youths and women 
and casual employment in the county is about the average 
for the country. 

The physical and economic features outlined earlier 
enable the farming of the county to be roughly subdivided 
into seven regions for the purpose of more detailed descrip- 
tion. These divisions are as follows : 


I. Southern Pennines, consisting mainly of the industrial belt 

II. Central Pennines and North-west Uplands 

III. North-east Uplands 

IV. The Yorkshire Wolds 
V. The Cleveland Lowland 

VI. The Plain of York 

VII. The Holderness 


The Southern Pennines, flanked on the east by the York- 
shire coalfields and on the west by those of Lancashire, 
consist mainly of Millstone Grit. Scores of industrial towns 
occupy the valleys and thin out towards the hills in this 
region. The spaces left for farming possess poor thin soil 
not naturally adapted to arable cultivation, and most of 
it is under grass, moorland, or rough grazing. It is capable 
of improvement under good management, but rapidly goes 
back if not carefully watched. 

These areas, which but for the proximity of industrial 
markets would naturally run to sheep walk, have been made 
capable of giving agricultural outputs of twenty, thirty, 
and even forty pounds per acre, by the energy and initiative 
of small farmers. The land is mainly under grass, and 
dairying and poultry keeping are the main enterprises, 
supplemented in some parts by the production of specialized 
crops from the small amount of arable in the district. 

The market being "at the door" the main object of the 
dairying is the production of milk and much of it is retailed 
by the producers themselves. Of the 7,030 West Riding 
milk producers registered under the Milk Marketing Board, 
no less than 4,045 or 57 per cent are producer-retailers. 
The concentration of dairy cows in this area is greater 
than anywhere else in the county, and, as one might expect, 
very little breeding and still less rearing is carried on. 
Most of the calves are sold directly off the cow, and the 
herds are maintained almost entirely by purchase. 


Also largely owing to the fact that the industrial popula- 
tion in the vicinity affords excellent marketing facilities for 
the disposal of their eggs, we find that this region has also 
the highest concentration of poultry in the county. Poultry 
occur in large numbers everywhere, even on the exposed 
heights and bleak hillsides of the Southern Pennines, on 
land on which even these men have found it impossible to 
carry cows. 

On the small amount of arable land in the region special- 
ized crops have been developed, notably rhubarb in 
the Leeds area and liquorice in the district around Ponte- 
fract. Rhubarb growing is carried on mainly within a 
rectangle 12 miles long and 6 miles wide on the acid coal 
measure soils at an altitude of less than 600 feet, on possibly 
some of the worst agricultural land in the country, and 
where the smoke pollution is at its worst. Rhubarb, how- 
ever, is an acid loving plant, and its broad spreading leaves 
prevent the stomata underneath being choked by soot. The 
plantiful supply of cheap fuel from the neighbouring coal 
pits makes forcing easy and inexpensive. 

The sheep found in this region are almost entirely Lonks 
and Gritstones, and numerically and economically are now 
relatively unimportant. Within the last twenty years or so 
their number has been declining for various reasons, in- 
cluding the tendency of the smoke and acid fumes from the 
industrial towns to intensify the acidity of the soil, and the 
opportunities through more convenient access to the indus- 
trial towns of going in for more intensive products like milk 
and poultry. 


This region is a land of wild fells and bleak uplands, 
divided by walls of stone into vast sheep pastures. The 
hillsides are terraced with alternations of precipice, grassy 
slope or scree, and flat platforms often curiously eroded. 


A quarter of a century ago this area was tenanted by 
store cattle of the Shorthorn breed and by Scotch Blackface 
sheep. To-day the Swaledale sheep has almost entirely 
replaced the Blackface, while improving transport facilities 
are tempting many of the men even in the more isolated 
areas to turn their attention to the production of liquid 
milk. Breeding and the production of store sheep stock are, 
however, the general enterprises of the region. 

On the hill sheep farms two main systems of management 
are adopted dependent upon the amount of good quality 
pasture available. Among the wilder fells where there is 
little inland pasture and meadow, and where the ewes 
must find subsistence throughout almost the whole year on 
the open moors, pure Swaledales are kept for the production 
of Swaledale lambs. Some of the ram lambs may be sold 
for breeding, but most go in store condition at the autumn 
sales mainly for feeding on grass. The gimmers are retained 
for breeding and after dropping about three crops of lambs 
are sold for further breeding at lower altitudes where less 
rigorous conditions prevail. 

In districts in which good inland pasture is available, in 
addition to the moorland grazing, a Swaledale breeding 
flock is kept and crossed with a Wensleydale ram. The 
progeny, known locally as the "Mashams," provide much 
of the material for winter feeding on the arable farms in 
the lowlands. Ewes which turn again after the Wensleydale 
ram, are mated with a Swaledale ram, and the gimmer 
lambs thus dropped are raised to help maintain the Swale- 
dale ewe flock. At lower altitudes the breeding of Masham 
lambs may go hand in hand with the sale of liquid milk 
if transport facilities are available, or with the summering 
of in-calf cows. 

As far as cattle are concerned in this district, every farmer 
breeds. All the heifer calves are reared and most of the bull 
calves sold off their dams, the main objective being to turn 
out good young dairy cows, most of which find their way 


into the adjacent liquid milk producing districts of Lan- 
cashire and the industrial area of the West Riding. The 
best type of dairy cow in the county and possibly in the 
country is to be found in the Dales of this region, notably 
in Swaledale and Wensleydale, which go in largely for 
butter and cheese. 

In the Craven area, just to the north of Skipton and the 
Aire Gap, an increasing number of the farmers are now 
making a practice of buying from the town dairies their dry 
and lying-off cows, giving them a rest among the hills, and 
selling them out again after calving. One such man turns 
over each year in this way 295 head, keeping them quite 
cheaply, with practically no cake, for about four months 
before selling again to intensive dairy farmers. 

As a good deal of this area came within the range of old 
Border raids, we find many of the farmsteads have evidently 
been built with an eye to the protection of their stock. 
Walburn Hall forms an excellent example of the old 
"fortified manor." In the upper reaches of Swaledale, 
particularly around Reeth and Muker and as far south as 
Hellifield, on commanding positions, are still to be found 
both farms and churches furnished with the old Peel Towers 
watch towers and towers of defence. 


In the north-east of the county rise the Cleveland and 
Hambledon Hills forming swelling heather-clad moors cut 
into by steep and abrupt valleys of great beauty, and 
covered for miles at a stretch at a height of 1,000 feet with 
boulder clay brought by the Scandinavian ice sheet. 

With little or no industrial development, except in the 
Cleveland area, there has been no special tendency to 
develop along the lines of liquid milk production or poultry 
keeping; the concentration being, as in the uplands of the 


north-west, on sheep and the rearing of young stock. The 
sheep are mainly Scotch Blackface crossed, as we find in 
Yorkshire almost invariably to the east of the Pennines 3 
with a Leicester ram. In this area, as one might expect, all 
heifer and bull calves are reared, and sold off as store stock 
to be finished either in the fold yards in the arable areas 
or on the good grass in the Wetherby and Holderness 
districts further south. 

Possibly owing to the fact that a large proportion of the 
moors has been subject to glacial action, one finds in this 
upland area a larger proportion of the land under the 
plough than in the western uplands at a similar altitude ; 
and it is by no means uncommon to find a moor farm in 
this area growing roots to feed hill sheep, and corn mainly 
for consumption on the farm. 

While sheep and store cattle are the mainstays of the 
farm, pigs are more important in this area than in the 
uplands of the west. A dales-bred pig having its origin 
most probably in Bilsdale the well-known "blue and 
white/' in contour not unlike the Landrace in Denmark 
is to be found not only on the eastern uplands, but in every 
part of the North Riding. 

Much of the land on and near the Whitby Moors is 
readily capable of reclamation ; but reclamation at a cost 
which is only likely to be incurred when the land is farmed 
by an occupying owner. Motoring between Whitby and 
Scarborough, one sees left and right of the road quite a 
number of holdings which have been reclaimed in this way. 
Two excellent examples are to be found lying just off the 
main Whitby-Guisborough Road, the one started in 1921 
and the other in 1926. Any one seeing these holdings at 
the time of their purchase and again to-day would scarcely 
recognize them as the same. Much of the moorland is dis- 
appearing; in place of heather and bracken, grass and 
clover are beginning to appear ; the stock carrying capacity 
of the holdings is rapidly rising ; serviceable buildings have 


been cheaply erected; the stock are looking well and 
beginning to do well, and we even find grass-fed fat bullocks 
now being finished on land which some years ago was 
nothing but a mass of heather and whins; while the growing 
fertility of the small amount of land put under the plough 
is most striking. In the process of land reclamation there 
has been no royal road, the methods adopted being varied 
and many-sided. In the early stages sheep were folded on 
the rough grass, and fed with hay in the folds; thus en- 
suring close grazing, consolidation and manuring of the 
land while at the same time it was being seeded with 
indigenous grasses. 

All the land has been slagged, most of it has been limed, 
surplus water has been got rid of; all the dykes and water 
courses have been cleaned out and kept clean; the really 
bad places have been tile-drained; where possible the 
cheaper method of mole-draining has been adopted; the 
water has been directed into suitable and useful channels, 
a ram has been erected and convenient watering-places for 
stock provided. Some of the worst grass has been ploughed 
out and reseeded. Financial improvement, though sure, has 
been slow. Land of this description after improvement is 
unfortunately of a type adapted only for products which 
have an unsheltered market and low selling prices have 
made it difficult for these land reclamation projects to 
become really sound economic propositions. Possibly an 
improvement in beef prices would help these men more 
than anything else, for the reclaimed land produces ideal 


The uplands of the south-eastern quadrant of the county 
consist of the Chalk Wolds which sweep in a broad belt 
from Flamborough Head to Hessle and Ferriby. 

Originally, the chalk formation spread over the whole 


of the Riding east of the Wolds, but the "Pennine Uplift" 
gave to the chalk from Garrowby to the Humber a dip to 
the east, and the Howgill-Cleveland fold had given to the 
chalk from Garrowby to Flamborough a general dip to the 
south. In consequence of this south-east dip, the chalk 
forms a bold escarpment on its northern and western sides, 
but gradually sinks to the east below the glacial clays and 
sands of the Holderness Plain, being covered by them to 
an approximate depth of 30 feet at Beverley, 55 feet at 
Sutton, 1 20 feet at Hedon, and 150 feet at Withernsea. 

About a century and a half ago, most of the Wolds were 
probably uncultivated sheep walks and rough grazing, but 
with the spread of turnips and the four-course rotation, 
this land became arable land, growing corn for sale and 
turnips to be folded to sheep in the winter and seeds for 
the sheep in summer. Barley was the most important grain 
crop, and the "golden hoof" of the sheep was reckoned to 
be the vital factor in maintaining fertility of the otherwise 
impoverished soil. This system is still the chief type of 
farming to be found on the Wolds. During the War, the 
adaptation of this area to war requirements consisted of 
taking an extra corn crop in the rotation and reducing the 
root crop and seeds acreage, and consequently the flocks 
of sheep carried. The land was not recouped for the heavy 
toll taken by the corn crops and received a check from 
which it has not yet recovered. 

Since the War, conditions have not favoured recovery. 
Owing to the decline at home and abroad in demand for 
beer, the market for malting barley has been seriously 
reduced, and although first-class malting samples are able 
to claim a reasonable, if not necessarily a high, price, an 
ever increasing proportion of the barley crop must find its 
outlet for stock-feeding. The other limb of the Wold farmer's 
business has also been subject to adverse changes. The 
typical Wold sheep was of the big, heavy woolled type, 
weighing anything from 80 to 120 Ib. deadweight when 


mature, with plenty of fat. To-day the demand for heavy- 
weight mutton has declined. The smaller grass-fed sheep is 
more in demand and, in addition, the expensive system of 
folding on roots and seeds finds difficulty in competing 
with the sheep fed on a grass range. 

That in general is the situation which has caused a more 
marked and more baffling state of depression in the Wolds 
than elsewhere in farming, since the system is based almost 
entirely on markets for products which appear to be 
suffering a more or less permanent eclipse. 

In meeting the situation by reorganization of the system 
of farming, the Wold farmer is severely handicapped. The 
feeding of pigs provides an alternative outlet for the barley 
crop, but is restricted by difficulties of obtaining the necessary 
water supply. The area is one of low rainfall and few springs, 
and the depth of the chalk makes it difficult to find water 
except by deep boring possibly down to 300 or even 400 feet. 
Distance from markets and poor road and rail communi- 
cation make milk production precarious except in specially 
favoured positions, while the small poultry population, until 
the opening of the egg collecting station at Beverley might, 
to a large extent, be attributed to the same main causes. 
The chalky soil is too thin for good grass, with not sufficient 
depth to grow carrots, sugar beet, or even potatoes economi- 
cally. Much of the land would be suitable for green peas, 
but lack of casual labour would make the crop extremely 
risky and speculative. Good wheat is being grown, and it 
speaks well for the technical skill of the Wold farmers that 
such excellent crops are to be found at such an altitude, 
but the observations of Dr. Best, which are largely in 
accordance with our own, suggest that wheat is only being 
grown successfully on that part of the East Riding which 
has been subject to glacial action. 

Unlike the West Riding farmers and the North Riding 
farmers near the Cleveland mining and shipbuilding area, 
the Wold farmer does not have an industrial market at his 


door. The nearest markets are Hull and the seasonal market 
of the seaside holiday resorts. There is also for the Wold 
farmer a present-day lack of good railway communication, 
good roads, and waterways. 

The farms are as a rule large and enclosed within a ring 
fence and admirably adapted to mechanized farming, 
though, as yet, tractors play an exceedingly small part in 
the working of the land. It will be on land of the Wold 
type that mechanized farming will prove most useful. One 
example of the kind in operation illustrates the changes 
effected, on a holding of 747 acres, 647 acres of which are 
under the plough. Formerly this farm, on typical Wold lines, 
employed 18 men and 39 horses. Apart from horses, the 
only stock were bullocks expensively fed and Leicester sheep 
folded equally expensively on roots. To-day the holding is 
run with five men and the labour bill is i8s. 4d. instead 
of 505. per acre. Tractors and combine-harvesters have 
replaced horses and binders. Wheat, barley, and bare 
fallow constitutes the rotation, and 66 per cent is under 
sale crops instead of 28 per cent. The same number of 
breeding ewes is kept but the Leicester has given place to 
grass sheep, like the Masham or Baumshire, and the yearly 
outlay on purchased foods has been reduced from 2,444 
to 200, and on fertilisers from 450 to 330. The land 
is cleaner and more time is available for attention to hedges 
and ditches. The output per acre is low, but a farm formerly 
losing money is now being run at a profit. 


Of the lowland areas between and about the upland masses, 
we meet in the extreme north the Cleveland Lowland, 
where, particularly in the neighbourhood of Middles- 
brough, is to be found some of the best land, and possibly 
some of the best and most progressive farmers in the county. 
Farmers in this district have from time to time shown 


progressive spirit by being among the earliest to try out 
milk recording, the intensive Hohenheim system of grass 
land treatment, the development of open-air pig keeping 
on both grass and arable, and the eradication of tuberculosis 
from dairy herds. 

Roughly speaking, 50 per cent of the land is under the 
plough, and both pasture and arable land are well managed. 
In texture most of the soil might be described as well- 
bodied loam, capable of growing a wide variety of crops, 
including good wheat and excellent samples of malting 

As one would expect from the position and soil type of 
the region, the system of mixed husbandry prevails. The 
main farm enterprise is usually milk production, but the 
methods of herd management differ very considerably from 
those followed in the regions already mentioned. The herds 
are largely self-contained, the cows being as a rule kept 
for about three, and occasionally four, lactations. More 
home-grown foods and less purchased concentrates are fed 
in the ration, and there is heavy feeding of roots. 

The grass land is heavily stocked with dairy cows and 
heifers, but no feeding bullocks. The sheep are mainly 
north country ewes crossed with Suffolk or Down breeds, 
and some of the earliest lambs in the whole county go to 
the butcher from this area. A good type of native breed of 
sow is kept, which when crossed with a large white boar 
gives high-grade pigs for the bacon factory. 

But although the output of stock products is high, the 
region is one in which stock and crops are possibly more 
ideally blended than in any other part of the county. The 
soil when managed with judgment is productive, the rain- 
fall fairly light, averaging 24 inches, the climate mild, and 
the position well sheltered, with the result that crops are 
remarkably early, considering the latitude. Wheat, malting 
barley, potatoes, cabbages, and other market-gardening 
crops are all grown for sale. The land is too heavy for 


carrots, and although of a suitable texture for sugar beet, 
little is grown so far north owing to the heavy transport 
costs to the factory. 


The Great Plain of York may agriculturally be divided 
into three main areas. 

(a) Heavy Boulder Clays of Northallerton and District 

The arable land of this heavy Boulder Clay is typical 
wheat and the grass typical bullock-feeding land. Wheat 
is practically the only sale crop grown, as the land is too 
heavy and wet for potatoes, and it is difficult if not impos- 
sible to get a really good sample of malting barley. The 
arable land is worked on a four-course rotation with about 
half of the cleaning crop (roots) for consumption on the 
holding, and half either bare or bastard fallow. Live stock 
is the mainstay of the farming. 

With the drop in the price of beef and increasing transport 
facilities, many of the farms in this area have lately switched 
over to liquid milk production, though few of the holdings 
were well equipped with the necessary buildings. Possibly 
in few areas is the need for a better and more rational 
system of milk distribution more evident than here, as 
some of the milk produced finds its way to Leeds and the 
industrial area of the West Riding, some to the mining 
and industrial towns of the Durham and Cleveland area, 
and a great deal is sent north to Appleby whence, after 
processing, it is again sent on its way south to help cater 
for the London market. 

The district is to a large extent cold and backward. The 
sheep kept are mainly grass-fed Mashams, which are win- 
tered on grass but very rarely finished here. Very few pigs 
are kept, in spite of the proximity of the bacon factory at 


the Vale of Mowbray, and the heavy, damp clay is not 
ideal for poultry. 

(b) The Light Land of Thirsk, Easingwold, and Pocklington 

Passing south, through the boulder clays of the North- 
allerton district, the light sandy soils of Thirsk are 
reached, on which excellent crops of potatoes, carrots, beet, 
and peas-picked-green are grown, as well as really good 
cereal crops. 

Here, again, is an arable area like that of the Wolds, 
but a district in which the farming community is not so 
badly hit. On this light land in the Thirsk area, much of 
it glacial drift, some the Keuper Marl, the main energies 
of the farm are concentrated on growing crops for sale. 
The land is of a type naturally adapted to the growing not 
only of cereal crops, but also of those already mentioned, 
which may be looked upon as safeguarded or sheltered to 
a greater or less extent, either naturally by their bulk or 
perishability, or artificially by Government subsidy. 

The light land in this area makes excellent pig and 
poultry runs ; and as one might expect this is outstandingly 
the one district in Yorkshire in which during the recent 
period of agricultural depression the largest modifications 
have been made in the method of stocking and cropping 
the holdings. 

To quote one example, an arable farm of 480 acres, 
24 per cent only under grass, has increased the value of its 
output from 2,822 in 1921-22 to 5,493 in 1928-29 and 
to 7,742 in 1934-35, in spite of the fact that during that 
period the level of agricultural prices in general fell from 
163 per cent above pre-war to 14 per cent above pre-war. 
Between 1921-22 and 1934-35, the value of stock products 
on this farm was increased nearly o\ times, while the value 
of crop products was increased nearly 3 times. This result 
has been brought about by supplementing feeding cattle 
and folded sheep with 30 breeding sows and 1,000 head 


of poultry, and by replacing some of the low-priced cereal 
crops and the non-sale root crops by intensive sale crops 
like potatoes, carrots, sugar beet, green peas, red beet, and 
parsnips, which together brought in an income of nearly 
5,000 in 1934-35. Last year the land under the plough 
consisted of 31-2 per cent low-priced cereals, 17-2 per 
cent seeds, and 51 6 per cent cleaning crops. With more 
than half of the arable land under cleaning crops one 
would naturally expect high yields. The cleaning crops, 
again, are interesting, for they show that of this 51-6 per 
cent, 88 per cent was under potatoes, sugar beet, carrots, 
peas, red beet, and parsnips, all comparatively high-priced 
sale crops. This man, though outstanding, is by no means 
an exception. 

This light land of the Plain of York is very widely spread, 
though its texture varies considerably. At the one end we 
find types like that at Strensall so poor and hungry that it 
is still left uncultivated as it was in the old days of the 
Forest of Galtres ; passing through that to the blow-away 
sands of Sutton, where the three-course rotation of potatoes, 
rye, and oats is still largely practised, as the high acidity 
of the soil makes it difficult to get a good take of seeds, to 
grow barley which is not patchy, or roots which do not 
"finger and toe." The wide variations in the texture of this 
drift soil are outstanding. In many cases, particularly in the 
neighbourhood of Easingwold, Pocklington, and Market 
Weighton, we find the light sand overlying the marl, and 
on many of the farms in this area marl pits practically in 
every field testify to the method adopted to make the soil 
productive in the old days when labour was cheap and 
cereal prices high. On two such farms to-day the process 
is still going on, and their financial results prove it to be 
still a paying proposition. Here the light drift soil overlies 
a chalky boulder clay, laid down by glaciers coming down 
from the Wolds, and contains roughly 12 per cent of calcium 
carbonate. Dressings of from 80 to 90 tons per acre of the 


marl are being given at a cost of roughly 5 los. per acre, 
and the land responds to the treatment in a manner almost 

Very little milk is produced in this area, though on 
many of the holdings store stock are reared and butter 
made; on many of the farms there is scarcely sufficient 
grass to summer the working horses and all the cattle must 
be stall or yard fed. Shortage of grass is being made good 
by the extended use of long leys, and the heavy expense of 
the production of the necessary farmyard manure by means 
of expensively winter fed bullocks, is being reduced by the 
greater use of the pig. It is in this area that the largest 
developments have been made in the growing of sugar 
beet, which has not only provided the growers with an 
additional sales crop, but added to the general fertility of 
the holding and at the same time provided by means of 
the tops a much needed winter food for the cattle and sheep. 

(c) Natural and Artificial Warp 

Farther west where the rivers are tidal, the waters of the 
Ouse and Derwent have either naturally left a deposit of 
rich alluvial silt or been made to produce an artificial 
warp which has not only raised the soil level well above 
the flood area but left on it a deposit of the highest fertility. 
To-day the operation can still be seen, and owners are 
finding that it still pays to expend as much as 15 an acre 
on the improvement of land in this way. 

Yorkshire possesses an area with ideal conditions for 
warping, where the waters of the Ouse, flowing through 
the fertile plain of York, and those of the Trent, flowing 
through the rich Red Keuper marl, meet the incoming 
tide of the Humber laden with the detritus of chalk from 
the east coast of Yorkshire. Warp farms rented at from 
405. to 508. an acre are essentially crop farms, with stock 
looked upon mainly as a medium for the conversion of 
straw into farmyard manure; the pig to consume the sur- 


plus potatoes and the feeding bullock to tread the straw, 
being as a rule the most important. 

After warping, the land is left so fertile that it is possible 
and even customary to grow as many as six or eight suc- 
cessive field crops without the application of any artificial 
or farmyard manure, and land which was warped a hundred 
years ago is still maintaining much of the fertility it then 
possessed. No warp land has a fixed rotation, cleaning crops 
forming as much as 40, 50 or even 60 per cent of the total 
arable acreage. The cereal crops are mainly wheat or oats 
(barley will usually be found to lay). The sale crops apart 
from wheat consist of potatoes, sugar beet (frequently sent 
down to the factory by barge), mustard, peas for picking 
green, flax, celery, savoys, cabbage, and other market crops. 
The monetary value of the output should be as much as 
16 or 18 an acre. 


East of the Wolds, and stretching practically to the sea, 
lies a vast expanse of boulder clay which overlies the chalk. 
Like the boulder clay in the Northallerton area it is wheat 
and bullock-feeding land, but it has not to any large extent 
switched over to milk production. Its stock consists chiefly 
of three-year-old bullocks as it is felt that the grass is too 
strong for young cattle, and Baumshire ewes which are 
run mainly as a flying flock, lambs and ewes being got 
off fat on seeds in preparation for the wheat crop. There 
are very few poultry in the area, possibly because it 
is so low lying and damp, while the pigs after being fed 
largely on seconds wheat go off as large and somewhat 
fat pork. 

The main energies of the holdings are and always have 
been concentrated on the production of wheat which is 
grown half after bare fallow and half after seeds. The seeds 
are always 100 per cent clover, with no rye grass as there 


is a very strong feeling that rye grass is detrimental to the 
wheat crop which would follow. Great importance is still 
attached to bare fallow in this area. 

This area has felt the depression almost as much as the 
Wolds, and has appreciated possibly more than any other 
the working of the Wheat Act. 

Chapter V 

The East Midland Counties 




Midland Agricultural College, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough 

Over I200P 
800- #00 f! 
400 -800 ft 



The East Midland Counties 1 

THE East Midlands Province covers the counties of Derby, 
Nottingham, Leicester, and Rutland, and that northerly part 
of Lincolnshire known as the Lindsey division. It runs 
eastwards therefore from the borders of the province of 
Lancashire and Cheshire and the province of the West 
Midlands to the North Sea. In the north it adjoins the 
Yorkshire Province, and in the south and south-east those 
of the eastern counties and of the southern counties. 

The total land area is 2,771,000 acres, of which 2,234,000 
acres are under crops and grass, and 105,000 acres are in 
rough grazings (mostly in Derbyshire), leaving 432,000 acres 
in non-agricultural use. 

The total population of the province is just under 
2j millions, an average of rather less than one person per 
acre, but the distribution of population throughout the 
province varies from almost unpopulated areas in the 
Derbyshire hills and very sparse areas in Lincolnshire to 
the dense city populations of Nottingham, Derby, and 

The province has a thickly populated belt about 1015 
miles wide running due north and south from the Yorkshire 
border round Sheffield to Derby and Nottingham, and 
continuing less densely to Leicester, practically the whole 
distance from the northern to the southern boundary of the 
province. Most of this area has a density of over <z\ persons 
per acre. The area in and around the cities of Nottingham 
(269,000) and Derby (142,000) and the coalfields is the 
most densely populated of the whole province. Towards the 

1 The author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness for much of 
the information in this essay to reports prepared from time to time by 
his colleagues, S. M. Makings and R. O. Wood. 


north of the industrial belt, near the Yorkshire border, is 
Chesterfield (64,000), and in the south near the border of 
Northamptonshire is the city of Leicester (239,000). In 
addition to having this large industrial population within 
its boundaries, this westerly belt of the province comes in 
the north within a few miles of Sheffield, and on the north- 
west within a few miles of Manchester and Lancashire's 
industrial millions. In the middle-west the Potteries are not 
more than 10-15 m il es from the Derbyshire border, and in 
the south-west the Black Country with Birmingham as its 
centre is only about 10 miles distant from the Leicester 

By contrast the 50-60 miles from the city of Nottingham 
to the North Sea is thinly populated. Small market towns 
and rural villages are scattered over the area, but the only 
towns of any size are Lincoln (66,246), Grimsby (92,463), 
the Scunthorpe district (33,761), all in the Lindsey division 
of Lincolnshire. 

The main physical features of the province are com- 
paratively simple. The only really high land is confined to 
the north-east corner in Derbyshire, where patches of the 
country are over 1,200 feet in height and most of it over 
800 feet. The foothills of this country stretch east over the 
border of Nottinghamshire and south almost to Derby and 
Nottingham. This is mostly coalfield and an industrial area. 
South and east of these north-eastern uplands runs the valley 
of the Trent which, entering the province in south-east 
Derbyshire, flows east through that county, bears slightly 
to north of east in the south of Nottinghamshire, and then 
flows almost due north through Nottinghamshire to the 
north-east corner of Lincolnshire, where it joins the Humber. 

Although its vale is not much more than 2 miles in 
width, this River Trent is an important physical feature. 
Amongst English rivers it is second only to the Severn in 
point of length and has a drainage basin of over 4,000 
square miles. Throughout its course in Nottinghamshire it 


drops only 75 feet ; it is affected by the tides very far up its 
course and is subject to considerable flooding. No reference 
to it would be complete without mention of its Aegir, which 
at the spring tides raises the level of the lower reaches by 
as much as 5 or 6 feet in a few minutes. 

South of the valley of the Trent bunches of high land 
appear in Leicestershire, broken by the valleys of the Soar 
and the Wreak, and in the extreme south by the agri- 
culturally important Welland valley. East of the Trent lie 
the wide stretches of Lincolnshire, all lowland country 
broken only by the very moderate slope of the Limestone 
Heights running due north of the city of Lincoln, and further 
east by the ridge of chalk, which constitutes the Lincolnshire 
Wolds, rising above 400 feet. 

Geologically the province is very varied. Although it is 
not necessary perhaps to attempt any general description, 
it is interesting to note the * 'marls." It seems necessary to 
use the term marl with reference to the Upper Keuper 
marl and the marls of the Lias with care. Only occasionally 
are there calcareous marls "the bulk of the Lower Lias 
consists of a cold aluminous clay with limestone bands at 

The Keuper marl in Nottingham is in general found 
under a good proportion of arable; in Leicestershire it 
provides the poorer grassland of that county, partly because 
also of drainage difficulties and an overlay in places of 
boulder clay. In general, pastures on the Keuper marl are 
made to produce cheese (or milk) ; on the Liassic, as in the 
eastern side of Leicestershire, they are made to produce 
beef. The Lower Lias of the Vale of Belvoir is, however, 
the home of the famous Stilton cheese. 

Lying as it does to the east of the Pennines, by far the 
greater part of the province has the lower rainfall associated 
with the eastern parts of England. With the exception of 
Derbyshire, which in the north-west has an average annual 
fall of over 40 inches and of between 30 and 40 in the 



middle, the rest of the province shows an average of under 
30 inches, and in fact is under 25 inches for the eastern 
boundary of Nottingham and the greater part of Lindsey. 

In general the rainfall is adequate, however, except for 
quite a considerable area almost in the centre of Nottingham- 
shire commonly known as the Sherwood "Forest." As poor 
sand land, this is more than usually dependent on its rainfall 
particularly during the vital two months April and May. 
u ln only twenty-two years out of the last sixty was there 
sufficient rainfall to eliminate the possibility of crop failures : 
... in the fifteen years since 1920 there have been seven 
"danger years," two drought years, and only six safe years." 

There are no special general conditions of tenure or 
labour to note. There is, however, a very interesting relic 
in the open field husbandry of Laxton, where the huge 
open three-field system is worked and well worked to 
this day. 

The employment of wage-paid labour is general, and 
wages rates range around 325. and 335. per week for ordinary 
labour over twenty-one years of age. 

As for the countryside itself, a more than usual variety 
of conditions are covered : from peak to marsh, from grouse 
moor to famed grazing, from industrial areas to truly rural 
hamlets, from poverty bottom to land so rich that it can be 
farmed under staple arable crops in holdings of 30 acres. 
With such a varied countryside as our visitor will find in 
the province it is well-nigh impossible to paint any general 
picture of its agriculture. It might be said broadly that 
horned live stock in one form or another will be the "note" 
struck for most of the province with the exception of Lindsey. 

The smoke of industry blows over the west, and even the 
industry of the Romans has left its mark in Derbyshire fields 
so harried for lead that for ever it will be impossible to 
harrow them or to graze horses in safety. The industrial 
population draws its supplies of milk and eggs from the 
surrounding farms, and the farming throughout the western 


part of the province cannot escape being influenced by the 
industrial conditions, but soil and climate conditions are 
the basic factors. 

Of the farming as a whole, dairying is the foremost 
general enterprise and is met with in one form or another 
throughout the province, even in the commonly arable area 
of Lindsey or pressing up against the strong bullock feeding 
lands of South Leicestershire. An outline of its distribution 
and the varying practices in the different regions is given 
here instead of in the later description of the regions. 

At first glance it might appear that there were only two 
systems of dairying in practice ; namely that from grassland 
in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and South Nottinghamshire, 
and that from arable land in Nottinghamshire, Lindsey, and 
Rutland, but it soon becomes evident that there has taken 
place something of a revolution in the use of the horned 
stock. The practice which existed in some districts of using 
mainly a beef bull with a dairy herd and occasionally 
changing to a more dairy type is now very often reversed, 
the emphasis being more on herd maintenance from home- 
bred dairy stock. This feature, however, is probably not 
confined to, although of perhaps more significance in, this 
province, and is no doubt linked both to the decline in the 
demand for stores in certain winter feeding districts and to 
the difficulty in getting suitable stores in others. 

Derbyshire has been devoted to dairying and stock raising 
for a very long time. On the lower levels wholesale milk 
production has been the chief objective, but on the high 
ground in the middle and north rearing and milk selling, 
with a certain amount of butter making, have been practised 
until quite recently. Circumstances have caused many of 
these farmers to do less rearing and to sell more milk, but it 
is still a very important rearing district. It is healthy land, 
much of it overlying limestone, and is noted for the general 
good quality of Shorthorn found. There is a ready market 
for milk from the industrial districts around Manchester, 


Sheffield, and the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire borders, 
whilst the south-eastern corner is the outlet for dairy stock 
and milk to the London milk market and Home Counties. 

Crossing the border into Leicester, dairying becomes a 
recent introduction, and few farms have been originally 
equipped for whole milk selling. On the western side of the 
county the dual-purpose Shorthorn is used and the dairying 
is largely patterned upon Derbyshire. The tendency to 
rearing, however, is not so evident and the main energy is 
towards milk and more milk from bought-in stock. 

Taking the county in a broad sweep southwards and to 
the west of the main road from Derby to Market Harborough 
and using Leicester as the pivot, the dairying changes as 
one crosses the Leicester-Hinckley road : at the outer edge 
of the sweep, fattening pastures, and on the middle and 
inside, "hunting country." Again whole milk selling has 
replaced on the one hand the fattening cattle, though the 
best feeding pastures are still retained for feeding cattle, and 
the dairy herd and young stock kept on what in this district 
are considered second-rate pasture. In the hunting country, 
the home of Stilton and Leicester cheese, rearing and store 
grazing have given way to whole milk selling. Buildings are 
generally inadequate, since horned stock was formerly 
wintered out and the cows calved down in spring. A change 
in the type of dairy cow is also apparent, tending towards 
the Lincoln Red Shorthorn often of an originally beef 
strain. With a capacity to convert bulky foods cheaply, 
although not producing great quantities of milk, they allow 
of a definite and satisfactory system of milk production. 

Grassland now becomes of less importance, and the arable 
districts of Rutland, Nottinghamshire, and Lindsey are not 
predominatingly devoted to dairying. Until quite recently 
such dairying as there was supplied local demand, but the 
tendency to convert feeding byres into cowsheds has been 
spreading, and the herd of beef-type Lincoln Red fed in 
yards in winter and on grass in summer is now being converted 


to milk production mainly through the use of a milking 
strain of sires and in other cases by the introduction of a 
specifically milk-producing breed. The root break released 
is devoted to cash crops such as potatoes, sugar beet, and 

Taking the province as a whole, dairy herds are not large 
and consist of up to twenty or thirty cows, a unit which 
can be run by the farmer with a little hired help. On the 
arable farms the units are either small (and capable of 
expansion) or have been pushed to their full capacity to 
the complete eclipse of cattle intended for beef. 

The province has upwards of a quarter of a million head 
of pigs, which are more common in Lindsey than in the 
other counties. Poultry keeping is ubiquitous, approximately 
9 per cent of the fowls on holdings over i acre in England 
being located within the province. 

There are four beet sugar factories within the province : 
Colwick near Nottingham, Kelham near Newark (Notts), 
Brigg in Lindsey, and another (Bardney) on the boundary 
of the Kesteven and Lindsey divisions of Lincolnshire. 

Briefly, then, we have dairying and dairy stock raising 
in Derbyshire, East Nottingham, and East Leicestershire; 
sheep and arable in the centre of Nottinghamshire ; arable 
and a little beef fattening along the Trent valley; sheep 
folding and arable in Lincolnshire ; and grassland bullock 
feeding in East Leicestershire. 

A rapid tour of the agricultural regions of the province 
involves a shuttlelike movement from north to south and 
south to north again several times, each time edging from 
the western boundary towards the coast and sweeping back 
again along the south of the province. In this tour we can 
divide the province roughly into seven mairi regions, with 
two sub-regions in one case. The regions are not of course 
homogeneous within themselves, but they can be fairly well 
defined and can quite fairly be related to the county 
boundaries so that they can be easily located. 


The regions are as follows : 

I. North-west Derbyshire 

II. North-east Derbyshire and North-west Nottingham- 

III. South Derbyshire and West Leicestershire 

IV. The Carr and the Isle of Axholme (North Nottingham- 

shire and Lindsey) 

V. (a) Sherwood Forest 

(b) South Nottinghamshire 

VI. Lindsey 

VII. East and South Leicestershire and Rutland 


In this section we include the area which would be 
bounded by a line drawn north and south through Chester- 
field till it cut a line drawn practically east and west from 

Our visitor will find this north-west third stormy, barren, 
and unproductive. It is a hill county, and he will find 
himself under the shadow of "The Peak." On his map he 
will notice strange names : Higgar Tor, High Low, Mam 
Tor, and the like. The promise of stone circles on the 
moorlands, the meaning of "High Low," the very name 
"Tor" itself will to many express the nature of the country 
they would overlook. 

The farms are mainly family units, and often barely more 
than subsistence holdings whatever their size. Many have a 
moorland run, and on the hills the grass is late and poor, 
quickly burnt up in summer. Buildings are substantial, but 
not often well adapted for milk production, upon which 
the Derbyshire farmer must largely rely. 

This milk production, from herds home-bred and reared, 
is largely for export from the northern end to Stockport, 
Manchester, and Sheffield or for factory cheese. Although 
the milk produced is produced efficiently in so far as cost 
and land utilization is concerned, the immediate problem 


is perhaps more one of quantity than of price. So far as 
land utilization and competitive cost of production is 
concerned milk from such an area can perhaps be regarded 
as no more on the margin of the market than milk pro- 
duced on town dairy lines. (It is necessary to interpo- 
late this, lest from our description we should be taken 
as describing a land better abandoned from a Planned 
Agriculture !) 

The cattle are mainly Dairy Shorthorn crosses. Often 
small through poor keep and wintering, a two-year-old 
heifer might reasonably pass for a yearling. Sheep flocks 
are mainly "Gritstones" and crosses. 


This region is less rugged than the moor and mountain- 
land, but most of it is above 400 feet. It stretches from the 
border of Yorkshire down to the imaginary Ashbourne- 
Ilkeston line, and includes for descriptive purposes a strip 
of the westerly border of Nottinghamshire. The northerly 
part has gravel loams overlying the magnesium limestone 
which gives land as good as any in the county. On the 
other hand the sticky, sour clays and thin sands on the 
coal measures, south of Chesterfield and along the Notting- 
hamshire border, are almost worthless. Thickly studded 
with small mining towns and villages the coal industry has 
governed the development of farming types on this area. 
There is a large proportion of family farms and holdings in 
and about the townships. There are milk and egg producers 
for retail sale, many spending one-third of their time in 
retailing their produce. Many of the cow-keepers are ex- 
miners and are keen, although often these smaller holdings 
are poorly designed and equipped. The cattle are mainly 
Dairy Shorthorns, Friesians, and crosses of good milking 
types. On the bigger, and once "typical" four-course, sheep 


and barley farms on the limestone belt dairying has for 
some time been the main feature. Sheep, however, are 
considered almost indispensable, and rearing and folding 
on roots is usual. Wheat is probably the main cash crop, 
with a few potatoes. 


These sections actually provide contrasts, although both 
have Keuper marl soils. Travelling southwards through 
Derby itself, which is an engineering and fabric-making 
centre, this southerly section of Derbyshire contains nearly 
all the largest and most productive farms in the county. 
Soil types range fairly widely. Some of the river valley 
(Trent) pastures are really excellent. The clays and marls 
produce wheats and clovers second to none, while the light 
loams of Melbourne and Borrowash are ideal for the market 
gardener. Once particularly diversified in their agriculture, 
milk production is and has been now for some time to be 
noted on almost every farm that has no outstanding advan- 
tage of wheat or grass feeding land. Sheep are a recognized 
feature, but grass fattening is the rule and root folding 

In North and West Leicestershire we have a rather more 
diverse agriculture. Included in this area are the coal 
measures in the vicinity of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the buried 
mountain range of Charnwood Forest, and the barren Moira 
wolds. For the rest there is the Keuper marls already 
mentioned, mostly under dairying grass but with a little 
ploughland which occasionally yields wheat very well. 
Arable cropping, however, is mainly for keep and is sub- 
sidiary to the live stock policy. Dairy herds are maintained 
from home-bred and reared stock. 

Near Loughborough is Dishley Grange, the scene of 
Robert BakewelPs success in improving the strains of English 
Leicester sheep and Longhorn cattle. 



This area, to which we have travelled to the extreme 
north of the province again, lies partly in Nottinghamshire 
and partly in Lincolnshire, and here we have the extremely 
fertile drained land which is the centre of market gardening 
and celery growing. This area bounded by the Idle, the 
Torne, the Don, and the Trent is the old marshland drained 
by Roman and later by Dutch engineers. Belts of blown 
sand, beds of peat, outcrops of Keuper marl, and stretches 
of warp form the chief soils. Of these the warp, formed by 
trapping the flood tide of the Trent behind a system of 
dykes and allowing the sediment to settle, is the most 

This warp is a silt of fine texture, sticky when wet, but 
highly fertile. Cultivated as arable land, it produces fine 
crops of potatoes, sugar beet, and wheat. Crops of 16 tons 
of potatoes (Majestic is the favourite) are not uncommon, 
with perhaps 10-12 tons as an average. Small holdings jostle 
with larger farms and market gardening, more especially 
round Haxey in the south, and celery production is of first 


Here we come, as has been said, almost in the centre of 
Nottinghamshire, to a large area of varying phases of the 
Bunter sand. Forming approximately one- third of the 
county, this yields light and poor soils. The farming of this 
area is exceptionally difficult, and has in fact exercised the 
minds of all connected with it ever since Robin Hood 
brought trouble to its Sherwood Forest. Giving in 1769 
cover to "Four Dukes, two Lords, and three rabbit warrens," 
it has not readily extended its welcome to farmers since. 

The soil is hungry and rainfall, as already stated, is low, 
and "successful management can only be assured by recog- 


nizing the need for humus." The lighter soils are "blowing 
sands," and it is not impossible for a farmer to find his 
quite large turnip plants blown right out of the ground and 
decorating the windward side of the hedges. 

It is difficult for an observer to deal with this district 
without reference to the conditions, economic and climatic, 
of the last two or three years. Mr. Makings reported in the 
summer of 1935 "on the seeds, foraging sheep raised a faint 
cloud of dust"; and more recently, "swedes rotten and 
rotting, sheep sold off three-quarters finished because there 
is no more winter keep." 

Nor have recent economic conditions tended to help this 
land. These sand land farms are essentially live stock and 
arable farms. The stocking has, in the face of the prices 
obtainable, been reduced below that necessary to keep the 
land in good heart, the co-essential liming is being neglected, 
and nothing substantial is available to take the place of 
live stock either as the final product or as means of keeping 
up crop yields. It is not possible, or here necessary, to go 
into a full examination of the position. It is perhaps enough 
to say that the traditional Norfolk four-course rotation, 
combined with sheep breeding for winter folding and yard 
feeding of cattle, whether or not it could have been made 
to withstand the economic blizzard, has in fact not been 
made to do so. Where it is still held to it is often but a 
feeble caricature of its old self. It is, however, being more 
and more abandoned. Not a few are attempting to prove 
that milk production can find a place on such land, but in 
general, even although the necessity of "sheep treading" is 
perhaps too much of a tradition, this land remains an arable- 
cum-sheep-cum-cattle proposition. 


A word on this sub-region will complete the rough outline 
of that county in which, apart from that devoted to milk 


production in the industrial districts, we might say that half 
the agricultural land is farmed as "mixed" farms, one- 
quarter as "arable" farms, and one-quarter as "grass" farms. 

The river gravel and alluvial soils of the Trent, which 
cuts across the south of the county and turning north forms 
the boundary between Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, 
are handled under arable or mixed farming, with the 
alluvium occasionally providing excellent feeding pastures. 

The south-west corner of Nottinghamshire has rich red 
fertile soils which make excellent wheat and bean land. 
The Barton in Fabis of Nottinghamshire, like the Barton- 
in-the-beans of West Leicestershire, is a hamlet the name 
of which keeps alive this record. 

The south-easterly corner of Nottinghamshire is dominated 
by a northerly spur of the Belvoir (pronounced Beever) 
escarpment, forming the Nottinghamshire Wolds. Part of 
the vale of Belvoir itself is in Nottinghamshire, and has been 
noted under grass as the home of the famous Stilton cheese 
now largely factory-made. 


In Lindsey we come into a county division which has 
59 per cent of its agricultural land under arable crops or 
rotational grazing. It is a farming county pure and simple. 
Mutton and wool, beef and cattle, wheat, barley, potatoes, 
and sugar beet are all important not only to the division 
itself but the division is an important centre of their pro- 
duction in the country as a whole. 

Stretching throughout the length of the Lindsey division 
from the Humber (in the north) south to the Kesteven 
border is a vale of blue lias clay. River erosion has made it 
undulating, and much of it is fair quality grassland. Milk 
production is found near Lincoln, Gainsborough, and 
Scunthorpe. It has little value as arable owing to its cold 
tenacious clay, but fair crops of wheat are produced. 


Next comes the "Limestone Heights" (not really heights 
since the land does not anywhere rise much above 200 feet, 
but the term arises from the fact that they stand up in the 
midst of the very flat country adjoining them), which again 
run almost due north and south. This belt is comparatively 
narrow in the north, but it broadens out near Kirton and 
continues as an unbroken ridge south to Lincoln. It is here 
broken by the Witham gap, but continues into the Kesteven 
division as a rapidly broadening plateau. Forming a sharp 
escarpment to the west, and falling more gently away to 
the Mid Clay Vale on the east, it served the Romans well, 
and Ermine Street for a considerable distance remains the 
modern road. Forming a somewhat sticky loam, farmed on 
the four-course system, fertility is maintained by arable 
sheep folding and yard cattle feeding. The practice is met 
with here, as elsewhere in Lindsey, for * 'yards" to be rented 
out to cattle feeders, whose beasts receive fodder and 
attention in return for so much cash and th$ dung. Fine 
crops of grain, potatoes, and sugar beet are raised, and 
"Limestone Edwards" hold a high position in the English 
potato market. Farms mostly range between 250 and 500 
acres, but small holdings are found about the villages. 
"Thus it is that the innkeeper, the blacksmith, and the 
haulage contractor may farm their bit of land and contribute 
their quota of sugar beet to the factory at Brigg." This area 
has felt the pinches of the depression, but the maintaining 
of soil fertility is not unduly arduous and the land is generally 
suited to the production of cash crops such as beet and 

Eastwards of this ridge, and up to 10 miles or so in width, 
lies the Mid Clay Vale, which is composed of Oxford and 
Kimeridge clays with a bed of greensand and in part 
covered with chalk breccia. Mixed farming is general ; there 
are comparatively few large farms and many small holdings 
of less than 50 acres. The greensand is of little agricultural 


Still going eastwards the land rises sharply to the chalk 
uplands of the Lincolnshire Wolds, some of it over 400 feet, 
which again stretch right from the Humber almost to the 
southernmost boundary. This area forms one of the most 
interesting features of Lincolnshire and is of about 230,000 
acres. It is an area of large holdings ; few are less than 
300 acres, and there are many over 1,000 acres. Most of it 
has been brought into cultivation since the middle of the 
eighteenth century, and this was largely made possible by 
turnips. The four-course rotation, founded on the turnip 
crop, has been the basic cropping system ever since. As 
may be guessed, therefore, it shares an uneasy economic 
bed with the Nottinghamshire sand land already referred 
to in that much of it also is almost completely lacking in 
natural fertility. The "four-course" is in the process of 
modification, and although in the central wolds with poorer 
soil the position remains exceedingly difficult, in the north 
and south where the deeper soils are to be found the 
depression is now being at least weathered. Where possible 
wheat has become a main cereal crop, barley almost 
invariably follows the wheat in the rotation and some 
grand malting qualities are obtained and the turnip crop 
has been reduced in favour of successful sugar beet culture. 
The tops are folded off by sheep. Although sheep are 
decreasing in numbers and cattle feeding is less popular 
than formerly, the economic utilization of the wolds still is 
rounded off by the invaluable supplement of the summer 
grazing found on the marsh to the east. Much of the marsh 
is rented by farmers whose main holdings on the wold are 
many miles distant. 

This "Marsh" is the strip of alluvial land along the low 
coast line, and gives, as indicated, valuable grazing land. 
South of Skegness bracing or warming influences of the 
Wash currents have led to some of this land being brought 
under the plough as well suited to early potato production 
and market gardening. 


Between the marsh and the wolds is a band of rising 
ground, mainly boulder clay with patches of glacial gravel, 
on which good wheats are grown and on which milk for 
the coastal holiday towns is produced. 

To the extreme south of Lindsey lies a small area of that 
extraordinarily rich fenland, a description of which will be 
found in the Eastern Counties Province. 


Rutland is a trim little county, rolling and uneven, 
through which it is a particular pleasure to run, and farmed 
with a considerable proportion of arable to the east and 
south-east, but largely under grass to the west and south- 
west. The arable land varies in quality, but the best is 
excellent. Root folding with sheep is met with on the 
hungrier soils as round Luffenham. The grassland is mainly 
dairying and store raising, with some fattening pastures in 
the south near Uppingham. 

The supreme pasture-fattening area, however, is in this 
south-easterly corner of Leicestershire. Up and down 
throughout the province, as in many others probably, one 
comes across individual fields which are noted locally for 
the steers they can fatten. Here, however, we have a district 
which is famed far more than locally. 

Leicestershire, as no commentator will allow us to forget, 
is in the centre of the hunting-the-fox country. It is 84 per 
cent under grass and is a land of alternating ridges and 
valleys, gently undulating or marked by bold escarpments. 
Generally speaking, the soil varies from a light sandy or 
gravelly to a stiff, marly loam. Some of the famous grassland 
of Leicestershire will be seen around the Market Harborough 
district (Welland Valley), and here we have the summer 
fattening of strong mature bullocks upwards of three years 
old. The nature of this grassland does not seem to be such 
as to allow of younger and smaller animals being successfully 


fattened in the ordinary way. They have been tried, but 
seemingly with no great success. On all but the very richest 
pastures, however, cattle to be fattened by two years old 
might perhaps be introduced, but they must have been 
"carried on" well right from calves and especial care taken 
when putting them out on to the grass for the final fattening. 
Prices have not been such as to encourage the general 
fattening of younger beasts on this land, and although 
two-year-olds are certainly more met with than formerly, 
this rich pasturage remains pre-eminently the source of our 
finest heavyweights. 

The question of the raising of stores themselves on these 
farms is one which has pressed itself forward both in 
connection with the quality of the finished steer and with 
this matter of finishing off at a younger age. In general, 
however, stores (Lincoln Reds, Herefords, Devons, and 
Welsh Runts) are imported. The management of such 
fattening grazing is a specialist's job. The number and 
changing of beasts in a field has to be studied almost 
literally from day to day, for the herbage of a field can be 
entirely altered for the season according to the handling of 
a week's grazing in the spring of the year. Dung droppings 
are collected and carted off a piece of information offered 
merely as an indication of the precautions which have to 
be taken to maintain the nature of these age-old grasslands. 

Chapter VI 

The Eastern Counties 






University of Cambridge 



The Eastern Counties 

THIS province comprises the block of counties roughly lying 
east of a line drawn between London in the south and 
Lincoln in the north, and covers an area of 5^ million 
acres. Of this area approximately sf million acres are 
returned as arable land, and i J million acres as permanent 
grass, while rough grazings account for a further J million 

The three largest counties in the province are Norfolk, 
Suffolk, and Essex, which collectively form a broad pro- 
montory jutting into the North Sea between the Wash and 
the Thames estuary. The other administrative counties 
included are (from north to south) the Kesteven and 
Holland divisions of Lincoln, the Soke of Peterborough, the 
Isle of Ely, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, 
and Hertfordshire. 

The whole province forms a low plain, of which nearly 
one-third is less than 50 feet above sea level, approxi- 
mately two-thirds is less than 200 feet, while the 4OO-foot 
contour is passed in only a few small portions. All the 
rivers run north, east, or south, and most of them are 
comparatively small and slow moving. In the north of 
the province, in what is generally described as the Fen- 
lands, the "fall" is so slight that a system of pumping 
engines and artificial dykes is necessary to remove the 
surface water. 

The main geological formations are Norwich and Coralline 
Crags, London Clay, Chalk, Gault, Lower Greensand, 
Kimeridge Clay, Oxford Clay, Oolite, and Lias. But recent 
drift deposits (mainly Boulder Clay, Sand, and Glacial 
Gravel) and alluvium cover the major portion of the 
province, and the surface soils provide a wide variety of 


characters. 1 Of the cultivated land there is approximately 
f million acres of alluvial soils, f million acres of heavy 
clays, f million acres of chalks, sands and gravels, and 
2 million acres of loams of one sort or another. The geo- 
graphical distribution of these surface soils very largely 
determines the boundaries of the different u type of farming" 
areas within the province. 

The rainfall throughout the province averages about 
24 inches a year, and is thus considerably below that of 
England as a whole. The monthly precipitation (averaged 
for the decade 1920-30) ranges from I J inches to 2^ inches, 
the driest period being during spring and early summer. 

Throughout the last nine hundred years many changes 
have taken place in the social and economic organization 
of the province. At the time of the Domesday Survey 
(A.D. 1086) the eastern counties formed the most densely 
populated district in England. The possession of navigable 
rivers, and the proximity of the Netherlands, accelerated 
the development of the area. Its ports became centres for 
the export of grain and wool to the Continent. In the latter 
half of the Middle Ages the textile industry was established, 
and from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century East 
Anglia was the primary industrial area of England. The 
enclosure of the land and consolidation of holdings pro- 
ceeded throughout five and a half centuries, first with 
a view to wool production, but latterly to increase food 

The modern phase in agricultural development began in 
the latter half of the eighteenth century. Then the intro- 
duction of turnip and clover crops provided an alternative 
to bare fallow, and a source of winter food for live stock. 
The value of manuring and draining became recognized. 
Chalking and marling were undertaken; heavy clay soils 
were "mended" with sand; sheep folding was practised to 

1 "Soil Conditions in East Anglia," Nicholson & Hanley, Empire 
Journal of Experimental Agriculture , iii. 9. 


consolidate and improve light soils. The drainage of the 
Fens was completed. Tull invented the corn drill, live stock 
breeding became a science, and Coke of Holkham popu- 
larized the "four-course" rotation. These and many other 
improvements were widely adopted during the nineteenth 
century. The decline in corn prices after 1875, together with 
the rising standard of living in the towns, stimulated the 
development of live stock husbandry. From that time the 
relative importance of cereals in the economy of the district 
greatly declined, and live stock have become the basis of 
the agriculture of the province. Since 1920 two Acts of 
Parliament have been of special significance to farmers in 
the eastern counties, viz. the Sugar Beet (Subsidy) Act of 
1924, and the Wheat Act of 1932. As a result of the former 
a profitable cash crop has been introduced into the fallow 
shift of the rotation without reducing the live stock-carrying 
capacity of the farms. By the latter the wheat acreage of 
the province was increased 50 per cent in two years from 
the low record touched in 1931. Both these measures have 
done much to ameliorate the financial position of farmers 
during the post-war depression. 

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries industry 
and commerce moved away from the eastern counties to 
the coalfields of the midlands and the north, and although 
innumerable fine churches and guildhalls bear evidence of 
the wealth derived from the early wool and textile trade, 
the province must in the twentieth century be considered 
as one of the essentially agricultural districts of England. 
The total population in 1931 was 3! million persons, but 
nearly half of these are living in the county of Essex adjacent 
to London, and for the rest of the area the density of 
population is only 0-45 person per acre, as compared with 
i 08 for England and Wales as a whole. Further, the 
proportion of the local population engaged in agriculture is 
more than twice as great as that for the whole country. 
Within the province there are forty-one towns or cities of 


more than 10,000 inhabitants, but half of these centres lie 
in the south within a short distance of London. The 
Metropolis forms the principal external market for the 
produce raised in the province, but much also goes to 
midland and northern manufacturing towns. 

There are approximately 58,000 agricultural holdings, of 
which nearly half are less than 20 acres in size. There is 
reason to believe that an appreciable proportion of these 
small units are not genuine agricultural undertakings, or 
only provide part-time employment to their occupiers. 
Only about 6 per cent of the total holdings are more than 
300 acres, although this percentage is double the comparable 
figure for England and Wales as a whole. For the holdings 
above 20 acres the "average" size is 140 acres. 

Perhaps the most characteristic agricultural feature of the 
province is the relatively large proportion of arable land, 
which represents about two-thirds of the total area under 
crops and grass. This is the principal wheat- and barley- 
growing part of the kingdom, while three-quarters of the 
total sugar beet area is concentrated here. But the prevailing 
systems of husbandry show great diversity of organization, 1 
and few farms produce less than ten different commodities, 
or sell less than five. As a source of cash income live stock 
take precedence over crops, and of the former milk, beef, 
pigs, and poultry are all important enterprises. 

Before describing the different types of farming found in 
the province it may interest the reader to get a glimpse of 
that convenient abstraction, a "typical" farm. This imagin- 
ary organization (built up partly from arithmetic averages, 
partly from modes, and partly from mere impressions) 
would be about 140 acres, situated on a medium loam soil, 
and rented by the occupier from a landlord for an annual 
payment of about i per acre. In addition to the occupier 
there would be three hired workers and one family worker, 

1 "In defence of Mixed Husbandry," Carslaw, Journal Royal Agri- 
cultural Society, England, vol. 96. 


while four or five work horses would be kept. The cropping 
and live stock would take the following form : 



Permanent grass not for hay . . 33 

Permanent grass for hay . . . . 1 1 

Temporary grass and clover . . 16 

Wheat . . . . . . . . 20 

Barley . . . . . . . . 15 

Oats . . . . . . . . . . 10 

Beans or peas . . . . . . 5 

Sugar beet . . . . , . . . 8 

Potatoes, sprouts, or cabbage . . 2 

Mangolds, turnips, and swedes . . 6 

Bare fallow 8 

Roads, buildings, and waste . . 6 

Total acres . . . . . . 140 


Michaelmas valuation: Number 

Work horses . . , . . . 4 

Other horses . . . . . . i 

Dairy cattle . . . . . . 10 

Other cattle 10 

Breeding pigs . . . , . . 3 

Other pigs . . . . . . 15 

Poultry . . . . . 250 

Annual production, say: 

Milk 5,500 galls. 

Beef . . . . . . 2 1 tons 

Pig meat . . . . 3J tons 

Eggs . . . . . . 2,000 doz. 

Table birds .. .. 150 

The capital value of the farm live stock, crops, and dead 
stock would amount to about 10 per acre, while the annual 
gross sales may be estimated at about &-Q per acre. 
Live stock would account for more than half the total sales, 


dairy produce being the main individual item. 1 On the 
expenditure side labour would be the principal item, with 
purchased feeding stuffs second in importance. In addition 
to the purchased feeding stuffs, the produce from over half 
the farmed area would be fed to live stock. Large quantities 
of animal manure are of course made available, and this 
would be supplemented by the purchase of ' 'artificial' * 
fertilizers. The value of the gross output per worker would 
be about 250 a year. 

Within the province there are great variations in the types 
of farming, and at least eleven major regions may be 
distinguished. The approximate outlines of these regions are 
shown in the map, from which it will be seen that they do 
not coincide with the boundaries of administrative counties. 
A quick circular tour of the province is described in the 
following paragraphs, in which reference will be made 
mainly to conditions in the major regions, although the 
characteristics associated with certain of the minor areas 
will also be mentioned. Starting with the county of Norfolk 
in the extreme north-east, the tour will be made in a circular 
direction moving clockwise round the province, and the 
regions will be visited in the following order : 

I. Central Norfolk 

II. Norfolk and Suffolk "Breck" 

III. Central Suffolk 

IV. South-east Suffolk Sand and Gravels 
V. North-west Essex Boulder Clays 

VI. South Essex London Clay 

VII. South Hertfordshire 

VIII. South Cambridge Chalks 

IX. Bedfordshire Greensands 

X. Huntingdon and West Cambridge Clays 

XI. Fen Alluvials 

1 For statistical information on the economic organization of farms 
in the Province, see Report 22 of the Farm Economics Branch, Cambridge 
University Department of Agriculture. 



Norfolk is the largest county in the province and covers 
over i J million acres, of which about i million acres are 
under crops and grass. It is the home of the classical 
"four-course" rotation of roots, barley, seeds, and wheat, 
which has here been widely practised for more than one 
hundred years. From the north-west corner of the county a 
belt of light loam runs south, on which large farms and 
large fields are predominant. In the east of the county, 
between the city of Norwich and the coast, is an area of 
reclaimed marshes which provide summer grazings for 
cattle. Along the north coast is a narrow strip of light soil 
famous for the quality of its barley. 

The central portion of the county, which is outlined as 
Region i, covers an area of about 400,000 acres of medium 
loam soil throughout which the type of farming is com- 
paratively uniform. Except for the city of Norwich on the 
eastern boundary of the region, there are no local consuming 
centres of any magnitude, and opportunities for producer 
retailing are rare. The centre of the region lies approxi- 
mately 25 miles from each of three sugar-beet factories, 
while the nearest bacon factory is some 30 miles distant. 
Farms and fields are small in comparison with the lighter 
soils in the west and north-west, and the countryside is 
dotted with farm-houses generally roofed with red pantiles, 
and built of a warm red brick or white plaster. These 
frequently nestle in the shelter of a group of ancient trees, 
and together with the sleepy villages contribute towards the 
general atmosphere of a placid rural environment. Unlike 
some other parts of the province there has been practically 
no immigration of farmers to this region for at least a 
generation, and nearly every present occupier has been 
born and brought up in the county. 

Approximately two-thirds of the farmed land is under the 
plough, and sugar beet now competes with barley for first 


place as the most important cash crop, with wheat a close 
third. These three crops together account for something like 
nine-tenths of the total crop sales, or one-third of total sales. 
Sugar beet has within the last ten years largely supplanted 
fodder roots, although even yet mangolds, swedes, and 
turnips are grown here to a greater extent than in most of 
the other regions. 

Central Norfolk is one of the most heavily stocked areas 
in the province, and nearly every farm keeps cattle, pigs, 
and poultry. In recent years there has been a considerable 
increase in dairying (at the expense of bullock feeding), and 
this enterprise is now of primary importance. A large 
proportion of the milk sold whole goes to London by road 
or rail, but an appreciable amount of the milk produced is 
made into farm butter. This farm manufacture has, of 
course, declined since the advent of the Milk Marketing 
Board. It is difficult to measure the real importance of beef 
cattle (as distinct from dairy stock), but in this region it is 
still greater than in any other part of the province. Pigs 
and poultry are both important enterprises, and com- 
paratively large quantities of ducks and turkeys are fattened. 
At the village of Attleborough an annual sale of store turkeys 
is held in October, when many thousands of birds are sold 
to feeders for preparation for the Christmas market. Com- 
pared with the lighter soil area in the north-west of the 
county, sheep are unimportant in central Norfolk. 


The county of Suffolk lies immediately to the south of 
Norfolk, and covers nearly i million acres. In the north-west 
corner of the county, and extending over the county 
boundary into Norfolk, is the very infertile "Breckland" 
region, well known to archaeologists and naturalists. 1 Here 
is an area of some 200,000 acres of hungry sand, so lacking 

1 Norfolk and Suffolk, Clarke (Black, Ltd., London). 


in clay and humus that it is liable to "blow" in strong 
winds. Much of the district is covered with heather and 
forest, and there are large tracts (such as Thetford, Roud- 
ham, and Brandon Heaths) which are little more than 
rabbit warrens. The largest group area in England and 
Wales under the Forestry Commission is in this district, 
where nearly 50,000 acres of former heathland are being 
planted mainly with conifers. Pheasant and partridge 
shooting is amongst the best in the country, and the sporting 
rents are frequently higher than the agricultural rents. At 
the village of Brandon, near the centre of the district, the 
oldest industry in the country that of flint "knapping" is 
still practised on a small scale. Apart from a few minor 
modifications the present process is identical with that of 
the first prehistoric inhabitants, who here discovered rich 
deposits of flints of the finest quality. 

On those portions of the region which are farmed the 
farms and fields are large (the latter being frequently 
unenclosed) and production per acre low. The May-June 
rainfall appears to be critical in relation to crop yields. 
The population is very scanty, averaging over most of the 
area less than o i per acre. It is well served, however, by 
three sugar-beet factories situated on its outskirts. Approxi- 
mately half the farmed land is under the plough, but good 
pasture is very scarce, and much of the permanent grass 
would more suitably be classified as "rough grazing." Sugar 
beet is now the principal cash crop, with barley second in 
importance. This is the only region in the province in which 
rye is grown to any extent, and in no other district is the 
proportion of farmed land under wheat so small. Carrots have 
here been grown in increasing quantities in recent years, 
and these are of good quality, keeping (apart from damage 
by game) in the light soil throughout the winter to be 
marketed in the spring after the fenland carrots are finished. 

The farmed land in the region carries only about half 
the density of live stock to be found in the neighbouring 


central Norfolk area, and is one of the least heavily stocked 
in the province. As in other regions the numbers of dairy 
cattle have been increased since the War, but the type of 
live stock particularly associated with the region is sheep. 


The major central portion of Suffolk comprises about 
300,000 acres of medium to heavy loams. In many respects 
conditions here are somewhat similar to those found in 
central Norfolk, but the soil is on the whole rather heavier. 
Farms and fields are relatively small, the latter averaging 
only about 8 acres, and frequently being of a very irregular 
shape. The red brick and tiled roofed houses associated 
with Norfolk here give way to whitewashed plaster-finished 
structures with thatched roofs. There are no large towns 
within the region, which is well served, however, by three 
sugar-beet factories and a bacon factory at Elmswell. 

Nearly three-quarters of the farmed land is under the 
plough, and although there is more wheat and pulse grown 
here than in central Norfolk, there is less fodder roots and 
more bare fallow. The principal cash crops are sugar beet, 
wheat, and barley, but as in Norfolk the greater part of 
the farmers' cash income is derived from live stock. Pigs 
are the most important live stock enterprise, and, indeed, 
the pig population is denser here than in any other part of 
England and Wales. Large quantities of second-quality 
barley and of pulse are disposed of as pig meat. 


Along the east coast of the county a narrow strip of 
hungry sandy soil widens towards the south, where a less 
permeable subsoil and a greater clay content render it more 
fertile. This region extends over the county boundary into 
the north-east corner of Essex, and covers about 200,000 


acres. Although notoriously deficient in lime the soil is 
responsive and easily worked, and permits considerable 
diversification of cropping. Further, the river estuaries, 
which here run far inland, soften the climate and help to 
prolong the growing period. Ipswich (population 88,000) 
and Colchester (population 49,000) both lie within the 
region, while such places as Harwich and the summer 
holiday resorts of Felixstowe, Walton, and Clacton further 
add to the local demand for agricultural produce. There is 
both a bacon and a sugar-beet factory at Ipswich, while a 
considerable amount of market-garden and other produce 
is sent to London. 

The farms here tend to be larger than in central Suffolk, 
but although the proportion of arable land is about the 
same, the cropping is more diversified and more live stock 
are carried. Sugar beet is the principal individual cash crop, 
but potatoes and market-garden crops of various sorts (e.g. 
green peas, white turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) are 
much in evidence, and the staple cereals are less important 
here than in most districts of the eastern counties. 

A considerable amount of dairying is done, and probably 
as much as one-fifth of the milk produced is sold direct to 
the consumer. The pig population is only about half that 
found in central Suffolk, but sheep are more in evidence. 


In the north-west corner of Essex, and extending into the 
south-west corner of Suffolk, is a region of heavy boulder 
clay. This is a rural area with no large centres of population. 
Much of the land requires draining, and the fields are 
generally small and of irregular shape. The nature of the 
soil limits the choice of cropping, although towards the 
south end of the district the "Roding" soils give more 
opportunity for diversification. Three-quarters of the farmed 
land is under the plough, and cereals are predominant, 


with wheat as the principal cash crop. The soil does not 
grow good malting barley, and its heavy nature adds greatly 
to the difficulty and cost of harvesting sugar beet. As might 
be expected, there is a relatively high proportion of bare 
fallow and a considerable acreage of beans and peas. The 
region is specially suited to the production of seed of various 
kinds (e.g. clovers, trefoil, sainfoin, and even roots), and 
these, although speculative, are amongst the chief "high- 
value" cash crops. 

The region carries comparatively few live stock. A possible 
explanation of the small numbers of cattle is that fields are 
frequently inadequately fenced, provision of water is a 
difficulty, while in many cases the land tends to "poach" 
in winter. In certain parts of the region it is locally supposed 
that soil and climate are unsuited to permanent grass, but 
this supposition is not founded on fact, and can frequently 
be accounted for by inadequate drainage and understocking. 
Pigs and poultry are probably the two principal live stock 
enterprises, while sheep are conspicuous by their absence. 


In the south of Essex is another heavy clay region extending 
to about 200,000 acres, but presenting in farm organization 
a marked contrast to Region v. This tract is separated 
from the coast on the east, and the Thames estuary on the 
south, by a narrow strip of alluvials, gravels, and, in the 
Southend area, by brick earth. Its proximity to London and 
the many large towns along the Thames estuary give the 
district decided marketing advantages. It forms the principal 
grazing area in the eastern counties, nearly three-quarters 
of the farmed land being under permanent grass. Wheat, 
barley, and sugar beet are of little importance ; potatoes, 
market-garden produce, and hay being the main cash crops. 
Total crop sales amount, however, to less than one-fifth of 
the gross farm incomes. 


This region is more densely stocked than any other in the 
eastern counties. It is the principal dairying area of the 
province, receipts from dairy produce alone amounting on 
the average to more than 4 per acre of farmed land. 
Most of the milk produced is sold on wholesale contract, 
and practically none is manufactured on the farm. Although 
essentially a grassland dairying region, milk production is 
fairly level throughout the year, and large quantities of 
concentrated feeding stuffs are purchased to supplement the 
hay, oats, beans, and roots grown on the farms for winter 

Poultry are the second most important live stock enter- 
prise, and some idea of the relatively insignificant position 
of the staple crops may be obtained from the fact that the 
total sales of poultry and eggs exceed considerably the 
combined income from wheat, barley, and sugar beet. 

Before leaving Essex it should be mentioned that a 
considerable amount of fruit and market-garden produce is 
raised, particularly along the coastline between Chelmsford 
and Colchester. 


Moving west from Essex into Hertfordshire, the intensive 
glasshouse area round Cheshunt and the Lea Valley is 
passed. This industry, chiefly growing tomatoes, cucumbers, 
grapes, carnations, roses, and ferns, has increased rapidly 
in recent years and now employs many thousands of workers. 
Once through the centre of this glasshouse industry, South 
Hertfordshire opens out as an area of essentially suburban 
farming. Comprising a variety of soils none of which is 
particularly fertile, this district enjoys unrivalled marketing 
facilities, for the development of rapid and cheap transport, 
together with the southerly movement of industry associated 
with recent years, has led, particularly since the War, to a 
great increase in the urban and suburban population. 


Here approximately half the farmed land is arable, and 
half the arable land is under wheat and oats. Barley and 
sugar beet are entirely unimportant features in the farm 
organization. A certain amount of potatoes and market- 
garden crops is grown, while sales of hay and straw to 
town stables also contribute materially to cash incomes. 
But crop sales account for only about one-quarter of gross 
incomes in this district, and milk is by far the most im- 
portant cash product of the farmers. Indeed, this is the 
second most important milk-producing region in the 
province. Probably as much as one-third of the milk pro- 
duced is sold directly from the farm to the consumer, and 
the possibilities of extending these retail sales are continually 
increasing. Large numbers of poultry are kept, but compared 
with many other districts in the province pigs are not an 
important source of income. Grassland flocks of sheep have 
increased in recent years. There is a small number of 
holdings along some of the river valleys in this region on 
which watercress is the only or principal source of income. 
In passing it is perhaps of interest to note that both in 
South Hertfordshire and in South Essex a comparatively 
large proportion of the farmers (about 40 per cent) are 
immigrants from the west and north of England, or from 
Scotland. This influx dates from the agricultural depression 
associated with the closing years of last century, when 
vacant farms and low rents, together with the growing 
urban demand for milk and potatoes, attracted the attention 
of west and north country farmers. 


Towards the north of Hertfordshire a low range of chalk 
hills runs north-east through Cambridgeshire to join the 
Breck sands near Newmarket. In this region there are no 
large centres of population. The farms and fields are large, 
many of the latter extending to more than 100 acres. Here 


as much as 85 per cent of the farmed land is under the 
plough, and a common rotation is roots, barley, barley, 
seeds, wheat. Barley is the principal cash crop, and not 
only is more barley grown here than in any other district, 
but the quality is uniformly better and the price received 
higher. The proximity of chalk to the surface appears to 
favour barley in that it increases the moisture-holding 
capacity of the soil, and lessens the risk of "burning" in 
dry summers. Wheat and sugar beet are both important 
cash crops, while clovers and sainfoin are the principal 
"short leyer" crops. A relatively large proportion of the 
land is under green crops for "close folding" by sheep, and 
it is a common practice to plough in rape or mustard as a 
green manure on fallows. 

Sheep are the type of live stock traditionally associated 
with this district, and formerly large flocks of the heavier 
breeds (e.g. Suffolk) were kept for manuring and con- 
solidating the arable land. But the high labour costs entailed 
by close folding, and the decline in sheep prices, have 
contributed towards reducing this practice. Indeed, on 
many farms sheep, as an aid to soil fertility, have been 
entirely superseded by green manuring and artificial 
fertilisers. A relatively large number of pigs is kept to 
consume tail barley. Some cattle are kept, chiefly during 
the winter months, for making dung, going out fresh or fat 
during the spring, but in recent years low prices have kept 
many "yards" empty. Dairying is confined almost entirely 
to farms situated in or near villages where an opportunity 
for retailing occurs. 


To the west of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire lies the 
county of Bedford, famed as a market-gardening area. The 
heart of this region lies on a strip of greensand and valley 
gravels roughly following the River Ouse. The soil is early, 


fertile, deep, and easily worked. Here large quantities of 
early and main crop potatoes, brussels sprouts, cabbage, 
cauliflower, green peas, green beans, carrots, onions, lettuce, 
and even parsley are grown for shipment to London, or to 
midland and northern markets. Measured by acreage the 
holdings are small, but the value of the output per acre is 
large. Owing to the intensive nature of the cropping and 
to the comparatively small number of live stock, vast 
amounts of town manure, soot, shoddy, and artificial 
fertilisers are used. In recent years this region has been 
suffering as a result of competition from mixed arable 
farmers in other districts who have been turning to vegetable 
growing as a side line. Further, certain plant pests in 
particular the eel worm have caused considerable loss to 
producers whose income is almost wholly derived from crops. 


North of Bedfordshire lies a region of heavy clays covering 
West Cambridgeshire and most of Huntingdonshire. A 
relatively large portion of this district is in need of drainage, 
and derelict or semi-derelict land is not uncommon. Approxi- 
mately 60 per cent of the farmed land is arable, the principal 
cash crop being wheat. As might be expected from the 
nature of the soil, barley and sugar beet are unimportant 
items, while there is a relatively large proportion of bare 
fallow. Beans are the principal fallow crop, although a 
limited area of peas is also grown. Clover is the main 
"short leyer" crop, but trefoil, sainfoin, and lucerne supple- 
ment the usual mixtures, and "second cuts" are frequently 
taken for seed. Where soil conditions permit small areas of 
fruit and market-garden crops are grown, but the possi- 
bilities of diversification are limited. Comparatively few 
live stock are carried. 

Before the introduction of the Wheat Subsidy in 1932 this 
was probably the most depressed district in the eastern 


counties. Its dependence on wheat, beans, and feeding 
cattle, its heavy intractable soil which limited the possi- 
bilities of diversified cropping, the negligible commitments 
in dairying and sugar beet, its lack of local consuming 
centres, all contributed towards the exhaustion of capital. 
The value of the output per acre here is lower than in any 
other district in the province, while expenditure on labour, 
feeding stuffs, and fertilisers is proportionately small. 


The northern boundary of the backward heavy land area 
adjoins the fertile fenlands, which present a marked contrast. 
Comprising either a black peat or silt soil, which frequently 
lies below sea-level and seldom rises more than a few feet, 
it extends in a compact block to the Wash and covers 
about | million acres. Near the town of Cambridge lies the 
village of Histon, where the factory of Messrs. Chivers & 
Sons, Ltd., does a large business in jam making and fruit 
canning, drawing its supplies from the fruit-growing areas 
round Cottenham and further afield. But going further 
north past this " skirt" land, the typical black fen of the Isle 
of Ely is encountered. Here four-fifths of the land is arable, 
and two-fifths of the arable land is under potatoes and 
sugar beet. Wheat is the main cereal crop, the acreage 
under this being more than twice the combined area of 
barley and oats. Crop yields per acre are high, 15 tons of 
sugar beet, 10 tons of potatoes, and 50 bushels of wheat 
being not uncommon. No less than five sugar-beet factories 
are situated within this district or on its outskirts, and the 
complex system of waterways which drain the area offer in 
many cases a cheap and convenient method of transport 
for beet and other bulky produce. In addition to the staple 
crops, relatively large areas of special crops are grown, such 
as mustard for seed (generally grown on contract), celery, 
carrots, and fruit of various sorts. 


Live stock are comparatively unimportant. A certain 
amount of horse breeding is done ; pigs utilize low-quality 
potatoes and grain; some cattle are grazed on the small 
areas of pasture, or are kept in yards to tread straw into 
manure. But it is probably safe to estimate that only about 
one-tenth of gross incomes is derived from live stock. Rental 
values are of course high, and in addition there are drainage 
rates to pay towards the maintenance of the immense 
organization of dykes, pumping stations, and sluices required 
to prevent the land from being flooded. 

Nearer the Wash, in the Holland division of Lincolnshire, 
the black soil of the Isle of Ely gives way to silt. Round 
Wisbech and Spalding bulb growing has developed rapidly 
in recent years, and, in the spring, fields of tulips and 
hyacinths present multi-coloured hues of brilliance. The 
production of cantaloup melons and out-of-season vegetables 
under "Dutch lights" has also become an important enter- 
prise within the last few years. Potatoes are the main cash 
crop, anything from one-third to a half of the arable area 
being under this crop. Near Boston, along the Wash estuary, 
is a small area concentrating largely on "earlies." Com- 
paratively large amounts of green peas and mustard for 
seed are grown, while both top fruit and soft fruit are 
important enterprises. Sugar beet is not so extensively grown 
here as in the black soils of the Isle of Ely. 

To the west of this fertile district lies the Kesteven division 
of Lincoln, where the land rises in limestone formations 
intermingled with Oxford and Lias clays. This change in 
physical characteristics results in a sudden and marked 
alteration in type of farming. The proportion of pasture 
increases ; many more cattle and sheep are kept ; the impor- 
tance of sugar beet, potatoes, and garden crops is greatly 
decreased. In effect, conditions rapidly merge into those 
associated with the province of the East Midland Counties, 
a detailed description of which will be found elsewhere in 
this volume. 

Chapter VII 

The South-Eastern Counties 






The South-Eastern Counties 

THE South-eastern Province comprises the counties of 
Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, bordered on the north by the 
Thames and its estuary, on the east and south by the sea, 
and on the west by the southern portion of the southern 
counties. In extent it is about 100 miles long from east to 
west and about 50 miles wide, having a total land area of 
2,360,000 acres and a population of 3,170,000 (geographical 
counties) concentrated mainly south of the London area 
in Surrey and in the coastal belt. The density of population, 
being 1-3, 2-6, i-i and 0-6 persons per acre in Kent, 
Surrey, East Sussex, and West Sussex respectively, is high 
in view of the fact that agriculture, strange to say, is the 
main industry; all the others brickmaking, cement, paper 
mills, gravel and sand pits, coal-mining, etc. are com- 
paratively small. The density of population, however, is 
dominated by the position of London and the Thames 
Estuary on the north side of the province. Around London, 
in the north-west corner of Kent and the north-east of 
Surrey, the dwellings of London's workers keep spreading 
out fanwise along the routes of fast transport. On the sea 
boundaries of the province the population is large, owing 
to the number of great holiday resorts such as Margate, 
Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton, Hove, and Worthing. In 
spite of the vast population in the north of the province, 
the fringe of big towns round the coast, and the spread 
of residential areas in most of the conveniently situated 
parts of the whole of these south-eastern counties, many 
parts within this radius of some 50-80 miles from London 
are as rural as any in England. In addition to the increasing 
use of land for residential purposes, a large area, especially 
of heath, woodland, and commons, is used as open spaces 
for a London playground. 


The proximity to London has a large influence on much 
of the agriculture, but geological formations and soils play 
a very large part in determining the agriculture of the 
various parts of the province, creating perhaps more sharp 
distinctions within a comparatively small area than any- 
where else in England. Of the total land area only some 
59 per cent is used for agricultural purposes (19 per cent 
arable, 40 per cent permanent grass), the rest being occupied 
by woods, heaths and commons, towns, roads, etc. To this 
may be added 7 per cent rough grazing. Of the agricultural 
area itself (including rough grazing) only 29 per cent is 
arable, 61 per cent is permanent grass, and 10 per cent is 
rough grazing. 

The annual rainfall in the area varies considerably from 
place to place, the range being from about 35 inches to about 
20 inches, and may be said to be closely associated with the 
geological formations and their typical contours, the rain- 
fall decreasing as the altitude drops. The greater part of 
the area has a fall of 25 inches to 30 inches. A strip along 
the north-east is the driest part, having a fall of only 20 inches 
or so. 

Although belonging to the eastern and drier part of 
England the province is now essentially a grassland area, 
and grassland farming predominates, dairying and sheep 
being the two leading enterprises. Beef production occupies 
only a minor place, as also pig feeding, but poultry claim 
an important place in the farm economy all through the 
area and especially in Kent and East Sussex. As to crops, 
the south-eastern counties are much better known for their 
special crops such as their fruit and hops than for their 
production of wheat, barley, etc. Wherever soil and other 
conditions permit market gardening is carried on intensively. 

The sizes of farms in the province are distributed in about 
the same proportions as for England and Wales as a whole, 
between 60 and 70 per cent of the 22,300 holdings being 
under 50 acres and about 3 per cent being above 300 acres. 


All the counties show roughly the same proportions with 
the exception of West Sussex, where the proportion of 
holdings under 50 acres is no more than 60 per cent, and 
the farms over 300 are over 6 per cent of the total. 

The employment of wage-paid labour is much higher 
than the average for England and Wales. Regular male 
workers per 1,000 acres number 40 in Kent, 45 in Surrey, 
30 in East Sussex, and 35 in West Sussex, compared with 
an average of just over 20 for the whole country. Employ- 
ment of women regularly is higher than average in Kent, 
being 4-4 per 1,000 acres, but is rather below the average 
in both divisions of Sussex. Employment of casual labour, 
both men and women, is above the average for the country, 
and Kent is one of the few counties where the number of 
women casually employed in agriculture exceeds that of 

The division of the province into regions for the purpose 
of more detailed description can best be done mainly by 
the geological formations. The shape of the main formations 
as they occur in the province is that of the letter U lying 
on its side with the open end to the east. In the core of 
the letter lies the High Weald, a region of hilly country. 
The Wealden Plain, a low-lying strip of clay, lies all round 
the High Weald except in the east. The Wealden Plain 
stops short at the two ends of the letter U, the areas lying 
on the coast being stretches of alluvial land, the Romney 
Marsh at the northerly end and the Pevensey Level at the 
southerly end. Round the Wealden Plain, another U-shaped 
strip of rather higher land consists of Lower Greensand, 
and then, lower again, a strip of Upper Greensand and 
Gault. North and south of this belt lie ridges of chalk downs, 
the North and South Downs, which do not however com- 
plete the U-shape within this province. Between the North 
Downs and the river Thames, a great variety of soils exist, 
and between the South Downs and the sea in West Sussex 
lies a fertile stretch of Brick Earth. 


The province can be roughly divided into six regions on 
the basis of these formations, namely : 

I. The High Weald 

II. The Wealden Plain 

III. Romney Marsh and Pevensey Level 

IV. The Lower Greensand, Upper Greensand, and Gault 
V. The North Downs and the Thames Estuary 

VI. The South Downs and Maritime Sussex 


The High Weald, forming the core of the area, is an 
elevated tract of country extending from the neighbourhood 
of Horsham to near Hastings on the coast, and northwards 
to beyond Tunbridge Wells. A considerable part of it is 
over 400 feet in height, and there are occasional patches 
over 600 feet. The highest point, Crowborough Beacon, is 
792 feet. Eastwards the northern part is deeply scarred by 
the valleys of the Medway and its tributaries, and on the 
southern side by the head waters of the Rother and the 

The High Weald consists of Tunbridge Wells Sand on 
the tops of the hills and Wadhurst Clay in the valleys. 
There is usually a line of springs where the Sand meets 
the Clay. Agriculturally it is poorish country, much of it 
and especially the higher parts, being heath or woodland 
(chestnut, birch, and conifers on the higher levels, oak and 
ash below), useless for farming except that there are com- 
mon rights to run sheep on some of the commons. The 
lower slopes are mainly under grass and dairying pre- 
dominates wherever roads or railways give easy access to 
markets. Sheep are very general, and many of the smaller 
farmers take sheep off the marshes for the winter months. 
Cattle grazing is carried on to a smaller extent. It is only 
in the valleys, and more particularly in the eastern part, 
that arable farming is carried on and, with one or two 


exceptions, is usually general mixed farming. In the valleys 
of the Medway and its tributaries there are a few small 
patches of intensively cultivated bush fruit farms, and also 
a few orchards and hop plantations. 

Poultry occur in fairly large numbers in the High Weald 
and there is one specialized poultry area around Heath- 
field where the industry of cramming table birds has 
become firmly established. It is only seldom that the 
crammers rear the birds they sell, the chickens usually 
being purchased either direct from the breeders through 
the Heathfield market or through the medium of higglers. 
The crammed birds (cleaned and packed) are sent to 
London by road, and usually fetch from 73. to los. each. 
In recent years there has been a tendency for crammers to 
break away from this system of sending to market and to 
pack under the National Mark Scheme for table poultry, 
but this has not affected many, and the old-established 
system prevails. 


The High Weald is surrounded on all sides except the sea 
by a strip of gently-undulating country all under 200 feet 
the Wealden Plain. In extent it is about 15 miles from 
east to west in its turn around the western end of the High 
Weald, and about 20 miles from north to south at its widest 
part. The northern arm tapers off to about 2 miles wide 
in Kent, and the southern one to about 4 miles in Sussex. 

Excepting patches of sand here and there, e.g. around 
Wisborough Green and Kirdford in the turn of the Weald, 
and of brick earth in East Kent, the whole of the Wealden 
Plain is heavy clay land, the wetness and heaviness of 
which is aggravated by its flatness and low elevation. It is 
practically all under grass and woodland. In appearance, 
looking down on it from the heights above, it appears to 
be more heavily wooded than it actually is, this being due 


to the prevalence of hedgerow timber round the small 

The Weald has never been highly farmed, and has always 
been regarded as poor, backward country, though much 
of the southern arm was under cultivation and used for the 
production of wheat and beans and for stock-rearing (Sussex 
cattle) right up to and during the War. It is now almost 
wholly under grass. The northern arm is likewise under 
grass, and has been so for generations. All the farms in this 
region are small, 50 to 100 acres mostly, and on practically 
all of them milk production from Dairy Shorthorns is the 
main enterprise. Except for the small patches of sand and 
brick earth already mentioned the Wealden Plain is essen- 
tially a dairying area. In the summer months some of the 
milk goes to the seaside holiday resorts, but at all seasons 
the bulk of it goes to the London market. There is no 
farm manufacture of butter or cheese for sale. 

Sheep are a common feature throughout the whole area 
of the Weald in the winter months when sheep are taken 
in from the marshland farms, but except in Kent sheep- 
grazing may be regarded as a sideline. There is also a certain 
amount of cattle feeding (Sussex cattle and Devons), but 
it is quite negligible in comparison with dairying. 

What may be regarded as a sideline also, though at one 
time it was far more remunerative than the farming proper, 
is the wild white clover seed industry which originated 
at Bethersden, six miles south of Ashford in Kent. Nowadays 
the seed is grown in various places throughout the Wealden 
Plain, and even on Romney Marsh, but the main concen- 
tration is still around Bethersden. The practice is to graze 
the permanent pasture very hard with sheep until the end 
of May and then allow it to go to seed. Kentish wild white 
seed still fetches the highest price in the market, but the 
very lucrative prices of 2os. to 258. per Ib. are a thing 
of the past, and not very much profit can now be made 
from it. 


There are three fruit-growing areas in the Wealden Plain. 
Around Yalding, Hunton, Paddock Wood, and Marden in 
Kent there is an important fruit and hops area, the plan- 
tations for the most part being on the patches of brick earth 
and alluvial deposits which overlie the clay in this district. 
For all practical purposes this area may be regarded as an 
extension of the Medway Valley hops and fruit area which 
is described later. 

In the turn of the Weald, around Kirdford and Wis- 
borough Green in West Sussex, the clay is lightened by 
sand, and here there is a highly organized group of apple- 
growing farms equipped with packing, grading, and gas 
storage facilities. Their total acreage is, however, small 
only about 300 acres. 

Further east in East Sussex there is a wide but some- 
what scattered area covering the fringe of the Wealden 
Plain and the foot of the High Weald in the neighbourhood 
of Chailey, which has become unique in the country for 
dessert fruit. The soil is poor, but the combination of a suit- 
able climate and an excellent technique gives results which 
yield good financial returns. Gooseberries are the out- 
standing crop, and raspberries take second place. Straw- 
berries are also grown. Some of the output is marketed 
locally (Brighton and Eastbourne), but it is mainly sent 
to the larger towns throughout the country. 

All the larger rivers in the South-eastern Province have 
their source either in the High Weald or in the Wealden 
Plain below, and a peculiar feature is that they do not 
flow along this valley, but north and south instead, cutting 
right through the Downs in narrow gorges to reach either 
the Thames or the sea. The main ones are the Wey, the 
Mole, the Darent, the Medway, and the Stour on the 
north side, and the Arun, the Adur, the Ouse, and the 
Cuckmere on the south. 



At the eastern ends of the two arms of the Wealden Plain 
are two fairly large areas of alluvial land Romney Marsh 
at the end of the northern arm, and Pevensey Level 
on the Sussex coast at the other side of the High Weald. 
Their greatest part is below the level of the highest tides 
and have been reclaimed from the sea from which they are 
now protected by a sea wall. Both areas are designated 
"marshes," but the name is misleading, for the greater 
part of them is well drained by an intricate system of dykes 
and ditches, and only rare patches are permanently wet 
and boggy. In the main they are treeless expanses of excellent 
grassland. There is some little arable land, but stock- 
grazing comprises practically the whole of the farming. 
Pevensey Level is grazed mainly by big strong bullocks 
(young stock do not do well), while Romney Marsh is 
grazed almost exclusively by sheep. Why the one should 
be the better for cattle-grazing and the other for sheep- 
feeding is a problem that remains unsolved. Some cattle 
are grazed on Romney Marsh in summer, but their number 
is insignificant compared with that of the sheep. It is 
essentially a sheep area and probably the most intensively 
stocked pasture in the world. 

Generally the lambs stay on the Marsh till about the end 
of August, when they are sent inland for wintering, the 
Marsh itself being too bleak for them in the winter months. 
Most of them go to the upland farms in Kent, Surrey, and 
Sussex, but some are sent as far as the Midlands. At the 
end of March or the beginning of April they are taken 
back to the Marsh and fattened off the same year. The 
ewes remain on the Marsh throughout the year, but some 
of the farmers have inland as well as marshland farms and 
prefer to have the lambing on the higher ground. The 
predominant breed is the Kent or Romney Marsh, but 
there is an increasing tendency to cross with Southdown 


rams, as the pure Kent is rather too large to meet the 
modern demand for small joints. The Kents are not prolific 
breeders, and there is also a tendency to introduce half- 
breds which are crossed with Southdown, Suffolk, or 
Hampshire rams. The Kent breed, however, is still the 
most popular on the Marsh. 



Forming a rim round the Wealden Plain is a range of sandy 
hills of Lower Greensand, presenting a steep scarp to the 
Weald and having a longer and gentler slope on the other 
side. The northern arm forms a series of hills as far as 
Folkestone and Hythe and contains the highest point in 
the south-east of England Leith Hill, 965 feet. In Kent, 
in the neighbourhood of Maidstone, it is about 6 miles 
broad and narrows to both east and west. At its western 
end in Surrey and Sussex it is much more extensive about 
10 miles from east to west and 12 miles from north to south, 
most of this area being hill and heath. The southern ridge 
in Sussex is less pronounced, and tapers off to about a mile 
in width east of the Adur. 

Geologically the Lower Greensand is of four formations : 
Atherfield Clay, Hythe Beds (the main division), Sandgate 
Clay, and Folkestone Sand. Agriculturally the Atherfield 
Clay can be taken with the Weald Clay, and the Folkestone 
Sands may be omitted altogether as the soil is very light 
and infertile, and mostly covered by heath and woodland. 
In many places it is pure building sand and is worked as 
such. In Sussex the Hythe and Sandgate beds give rise to 
fertile and easy-working soils on which general mixed 
farming is practised with dairying as the main enterprise, 
and corn growing and sheep folding after it. In Kent, on 
the other hand, the Sandgate beds are for the most part 
under grass with sheep predominating and dairying sub- 


sidiary. The whole Lower Greensand series in its area of 
greatest development west of Sevenoaks and on to the 
Hampshire border (Leith Hill-Farnham area) has little 
agricultural value, only the valleys where the rain-wash 
and the streams have accumulated a little soil being culti- 
vated; the rest is open heath covered with heather and 
gorse or woodland of Scotch fir, larch, and birch. 

East of Sevenoaks, and more particularly in the Medway 
Valley, the Hythe Beds give a sandy but extremely fertile 
soil Kentish rag and on it there is intensive farming of 
hops and fruit. The steep-scarped face of the Greensand 
ridge as it faces the Weald, with its southern exposure, is 
particularly valuable for fruit growing, and even the Weald 
Clay which encroaches on the face of the escarpment, is 
sufficiently overlaid by a down wash of sand to form a 
valuable soil at the foot of the hill. The Medway valley 
from Maidstone to Yalding forms the heart of this area 
which extends roughly from 4 to 5 miles east of Sevenoaks 
in the east to Broomfield in the west, and from just north 
of Maidstone in the north to Yalding and over the Weald 
Clay on the brick earth and alluvial deposits at Hunton, 
Paddock Wood, and Marden in the south. Here fruit and 
hops dominate the farming and the landscape, and except 
for plantations of chestnut, from which the hop poles used 
are drawn, the whole of this undulating country is inten- 
sively farmed. Along the lower slopes of the Medway valley 
are the finest of the Mid-Kent hop gardens. Higher up 
fruit is more abundant and has been replacing hops, especi- 
ally on the crest and on the southern face of the Greensand 
escarpment. The principal fruit crop is apples, interspersed 
with pears, plums, and all kinds of soft fruit. Most of the 
orchards are under grass, though some are underplanted 
with bush fruit gooseberries, raspberries, currants, etc. 
The rest of the farming in this area is entirely secondary to 
fruit and hops. No regular rotation is followed, and sheep 
are hardly seen except on the grass orchards. 


In the last fifty years the hop acreage in Kent has decreased 
by nearly 75 per cent and there has been, and still is, a 
tendency to concentrate the crop on the most suitable soils. 
Evidence that the crop was once far more widespread than 
it is now is readily found in the number of disused oast 
houses (drying kilns), especially in the Weald. Production 
has not decreased in the same proportion as the acreage, 
however, this being due to the concentration in the best 
suited areas, improved methods of cultivation, and applying 
the results of biological research. The decrease in the acreage 
of hops has been offset by an increase in that of fruit. 

Lying between the Lower Greensand ridge and the Chalk 
Downs is a narrow valley of Gault Clay, Upper Greensand, 
and Chalk Marl, but nowhere in the province is it extensive. 
Its largest area is in West Sussex. Agriculturally it is one 
area, all the farms in it being narrow rectangles lying across 
it and up the face of the Downs and all sharing the several 
types of soil. Fifteen years or so ago the farming here was 
based on arable cultivation and dairying, but since then 
more and more land has gone down to grass, and dairying 
is now by far the most important enterprise. What arable 
cultivation there is now is based on the four-course rotation 
and is for maintaining the dairy herds, and to a large extent 
for sheep folding. 


North of the narrow Gault-Upper Greensand valley is the 
ridge of the North Downs which on their northern side slope 
somewhat gently down to the river Thames and its estuary. 
The region is extremely varied in its agriculture, since it 
includes downland proper rising above 400 feet on the one 
side and a series of river flats and sands on the other. The 
North Downs themselves are not all typical downland, a 
large part being occupied by formations resting on the 
gentle slope of the chalk. Next to the summit is an area of 



Clay-with-Flints (largely wooded) which, with the excep- 
tion of certain stretches of bare chalk like the Epsom 
Downs and the bottoms of the many valleys at right angles 
to the line of the plateau, stretches continuously from near 
Guildford in the west to between Folkestone and Dover 
in the east. Further down the slope from Sandwich 
to London there is a strip of Woolwich and Thanet 
beds interspersed with patches of chalk, London clay, 
brick earth, and alluvium. Practically all of this strip is 
cultivated. Further west is a strip of London clay, nearly 
all under grass, in the valley through which runs the rail- 
way line to Guildford, and beyond that the heathy wastes 
of the Bagshot beds in the north-west of Surrey. Bare chalk 
occurs in patches on the summit of the Downs, in the 
strip from Guildford to Rochester, and in the north-east 
and the south-east of Thanet. The region will be described 
by its various districts travelling from the Isle of Thanet 
in the east to Surrey in the west. 

The Isle of Thanet, the north-east corner of Kent east 
of the Whitstable-Canterbury-Dover road, is a flat, dry, 
arable district famous for the quality of its barley, its 
broccoli, and its ability to grow lucerne. No fixed rotation 
is followed. Lucerne is the principal hay crop and the plant 
can be relied upon to "stand" for a number of years, after 
which the land will often grow two or three good corn 
crops in succession without help. Broccoli growing has an 
important place in the farm economy, Kent producing 
more broccoli than Cornwall. The Sittingbourne fruit area 
(below) extends into Thanet. Within this north-east corner 
there is also a market-gardening area with its approximate 
centre at Ash. Eastwards it extends to Sandwich, westwards 
to Wingham, and north and south for about the same dis- 
tances, with an arm projecting to Deal. This market- 
gardening area is occupied mainly by small holders, and 
about 70 per cent of the output is marketed locally. 

The Thanet Sands and the Brick Earth form almost ideal 


soils, and on them is the second great hops and fruit area, 
noted more for its fruit perhaps than for its hops. The con- 
centration is mainly on the land bordering the Rochester- 
Sandwich road from about midway between Rochester and 
Sittingbourne to within two or three miles of Sandwich, 
embracing a strip of country about three miles wide, roughly 
one mile to the north of the road and two miles to the south. 
Within this area the greatest concentration is in the neigh- 
bourhood of Sittingbourne, which is known particularly 
for its cherry orchards. The main fruit is the apple, but all 
kinds are grown, including practically all kinds of bush 
and soft fruits. Most of the orchards in this area are under 
grass which is closely grazed by sheep. 

The Isle of Sheppey has a small market-gardening area 
in its north-west corner round Sheerness but otherwise 
it is a wet low-rented area. It is mostly stiff London clay 
and was at one time used for seed growing (swedes, etc.), 
but lucerne is the main crop now. The southern half of the 
island is marshy grazing land. 

The Hundred of Hoo is another market-gardening area, 
noted principally for its early potatoes and "collards" 
(spring greens). The whole of the farming is subservient to 
these two crops which are protected from damage by spring 
frosts by the proximity of the estuary of the Thames. 

Moving westwards nearer London we reach the largest 
market-gardening area in the south-eastern counties that 
centred around Swanley, Bexley Heath, and Dartford, but 
stretching right across to Rochester and the south-west 
border of the Hundred of Hoo. All kinds of market-gardening 
produce are extensively grown in this area, and in it also 
are some 150 acres of glasshouses where large quantities 
of tomatoes, cucumbers, carnations, etc., are grown for 
the London market. 

South of the Swanley area and all round the southern 
edge of London's suburbs market gardening is carried on 
wherever suitable conditions permit, but except for patches 


such as those at Mitcham and Hackbridge there are no 
specific market-gardening areas ; and, as urbanization pro- 
gresses along the roads leading from London, it is being 
forced further out and becoming more scattered on account 
of lack of suitable soil and other conditions. 

Little can be said of the general farming in the northern 
halves of Kent and Surrey except that in the areas already 
mentioned it is subservient to the enterprises which make 
the areas distinctive. Outside these special areas the general 
farming in Kent has a bit of everything sheep grazing, 
dairying, poultry-keeping, cattle-feeding with no speciali- 
zation at all. In Surrey it is grassland farming for milk 
production with very little arable (and that little liable to 
be used for market gardening) but with large numbers of 
poultry. Egg production is often very successfully combined 
with market gardening. Owing to the large and widely 
distributed residential population there are a large number 
of producer-retailers of milk, and for the same reason much 
of the market-gardening produce is consumed locally. The 
military stations and camps in the Aldershot district have 
a similar effect on the farming in the west of the county. 


This region divides itself into the two distinct parts of the 
title, namely, the ridge of downland called the South 
Downs and the Brick Earth area between the South Downs 
and the sea in the south-west part of Sussex. 

The South Downs are about 6 miles broad where they 
enter Sussex on its western boundary, rising so steeply from 
the Upper Greensand terrace that some fields on the northern 
slope do not see the sun for four months of the year. The 
southern slope is deeply cut into coombes and valleys by 
two small rivers (the Ems and the Havant), but eastwards 
this stretch continues for some 20 miles with no other break 
to the valley of the Arun. Up to this point it differs from 


all the rest of the South Downs in being heavily wooded 
on the higher levels along its whole length (beech largely). 
East of the Arun the ridge is open downland, reaching a 
height of over 700 feet in parts, and terminating at Beachy 
Head which itself is nearly 600 feet high. 

Generally the South Downs are bare and thin on top, 
but have a surprising amount of soil on the lower slopes. 
Before the War the western parts were under traditional 
downland farming, based on barley and sheep, but since 
then the land has very largely gone out of cultivation and 
in most parts, and near the towns especially, dairying 
occupies a more important place than anything else. The 
same is true of the eastern reaches except that sheep farming 
was formerly the only enterprise. Just after the War there 
was a tendency to let large stretches of the Downs go 
derelict, but the development of dairying has checked this. 
With the development of dairying has come a general move 
towards more intensive farming of the Downs in West 
Sussex, and where a water supply can be provided for, 
bush and gorse clearing and extension of the farming area 
generally follow. Apart from the farming there has been an 
increasing tendency in recent years to regard the South 
Downs as recreation ground, particularly their eastern 

On the cultivated land some wheat and oats are grown, 
but the arable area is for the most part subservient to 
dairying and sheep folding. There are still large numbers 
of sheep on the Downs but not in the large flocks that were 
common some years ago. They are mostly of the Southdown 
breed, though there are quite a lot of Kerry Hill, Cheviot, 
and Border Leicester-Cheviot flocks. There is an increasing 
tendency to bring in Scottish sheep and Kerry Hills to 
cross with Southdown rams for the production of early lamb. 

The gentle southern slope of the South Downs is over- 
laid by deposits of more recent geological formation (Thanet) 
obscured by overlying Brick Earth which gives the most 


generally fertile area in the whole of Sussex. Maritime 
Sussex richly deserves its name "the Garden of Sussex." 
The soil is a finely-tempered loam in which sand and silt 
predominate, but with enough fine silt and clay to give it 
"body" as well as water-holding capacity. Agriculturally 
it is not a homogeneous area, but generally speaking arable 
farming combined with dairying and folding sheep embraces 
the whole of the farming in the greater part of the area 
(the west). 

Before the War Maritime Sussex was devoted to corn- 
growing and bullock-fattening combined with sheep- 
folding, but now beef production, and to a certain extent 
corn-growing, has given way to dairying, and dairying 
may be regarded as the main enterprise in the present 
farming practice. There is no manufacture of milk in the 
area, the whole production going into the liquid market, 
that produced west of Chichester going westwards to Ports- 
mouth and the rest going east to the seaside towns. Beef 
has not been ousted completely, but what little there is is 
confined to the western part of the area. The flying flock 
system is generally followed with sheep, though breeding 
stocks of Southdowns are maintained here. Pigs and poultry 
are comparatively unimportant. 

Arable cultivation revolves round wheat, sugar beet, 
folding crops, and short leys, a common rotation being 
wheat, sugar beet or folding crops, oats and seeds. The 
wheat acreage has increased somewhat at the expense of 
other arable crops since the introduction of the subsidy. 
Barley is not a typical crop though at one time it was 
common on the Coombe Rock area, a thin strip of valley 
gravel immediately to the north of the Brick Earth. There 
are numerous gravel pits in this strip which are worked 
for building materials. 

East of Chichester the farming gradually gives way to 
market gardening in the Worthing-Brighton area. There 
is no distinct line of demarcation between the farming 


proper and market gardening, and what line one may 
draw would hold good for only a short time as, owing to 
the pressure of building and the expansion of the seaside 
towns, the market-gardening and glasshouse industries are 
being pushed further and further west. They cannot extend 
to any great extent in other directions because of the 
proximity of the Downs and lack of suitable soils. This 
increasing urbanization and market gardening being forced 
to shift further out is evident throughout the whole of the 
south-eastern province. 

All kinds of market-gardening produce are grown in 
this area, but it is perhaps best known for its forced beans, 
early lettuce, and mushrooms. The glasshouse industry has 
not developed to the same extent here as in the Lea Valley, 
but considerable quantities of grapes, tomatoes, and cucum- 
bers are produced. Figs are also grown, both in the open 
and under glass, and some of the best strawberries are 
grown in this area. There is comparatively little orchard 
or bush fruit, though there are a few commercial orchards 
in West Sussex. Early in the season the London market is 
the main outlet for the products of the glasshouse industry, 
and then later the coastal towns from Hastings to 


There are numerous live stock markets throughout the 
south-eastern counties, the main ones being Guildford in 
Surrey, which serves the northern part of West Sussex as 
well as Surrey itself, Ashford in Kent, Lewes in East Sussex, 
and Chichester in West Sussex. These are general markets 
handling fat stock, cows, sheep, pigs, and poultry, and 
most of the markets in the area are of this type. There are, 
however, several special markets, e.g. poultry at Heath- 
field, and sheep at Rye, and in addition to these there are 
periodical fairs, especially for sheep at such places as Ash- 
ford, Maidstone and Rochester in Kent, Chichester and 


Findon in West Sussex, and Lewes in East Sussex. There 
are several egg-packing stations in the area. 

There are no special fruit markets and very little fruit 
is retailed by the producers though there are some wayside 
stallholders. The bulk of the fruit is sold through agents in 
London who advise as to the best outlets throughout the 
country. Quite a large proportion of the orchard fruit is 
sold on the trees by auction (Maidstone and Sittingbourne) . 
Canning has been on the increase and there are now canning 
factories at Maidstone, Faversham, Carrotwood, and 
Banning in Kent. Hops are now sold through the Hops 
Marketing Board. 

Nearly all the market-gardening and glasshouse produce 
from the northern halves of Kent and Surrey goes to London, 
most of the big growers having their own lorries for transport. 
The produce from the Worthing market-gardening area is 
mostly consumed in the towns along the south coast. 

Pigs are not a special feature of the farming in any of the 
counties in the province. Most are for the pork market, 
but in Kent there has been some development of baconer 
production since the introduction of the Pigs Marketing 

The main milk market is naturally London, though the 
coastal towns, especially in summer, provide a big liquid 

Chapter VIII 

The South and South Midland 





University of Reading 

County Boundaries - - * 



The South and South Midland Counties 

THE Southern Province comprises Dorsetshire, Hampshire, 
Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, 
Oxfordshire, and Northamptonshire. The province resembles 
in shape a wedge driven in at the centre of the south coast 
right up through the middle of England to a point some 
thirty miles short of the Wash on the east coast. 

The total land area of the province is 3,943,799 acres, of 
which 2,675,910 acres are under crops and grass, and 
268,539 acres are classed as rough grazings used for agricul- 
ture, leaving 999,000 acres in non-agricultural use. 

The proportion of land not used for agricultural purposes 
is high compared with other parts of this country, but this 
is largely due to the fact that London occupies a large 
proportion of Middlesex and its population overflows into 
all of the other adjacent parts of the province. 

The location of London with its 8 million people partly 
in and partly on the edge of the province is a dominating 
factor in the agriculture of the surrounding country, though 
perhaps less so than one would expect. The most notice- 
able relationship between London and the surrounding 
land is the rapid encroachment of houses and factories on 
land which until comparatively recently was farm or 
market-garden land. The land around London had formerly 
a marked advantage in the production of perishable pro- 
ducts, milk and vegetables particularly, but rapid transport 
has reduced the advantage and the demand for building 
is pushing the fringe of agriculture further and further back 
from the metropolis. 

The total population of the province is just over 4 million, 
40 per cent of which is in Middlesex and is virtually a part 
of London. In addition to London, several very large towns 


spaced widely apart throughout furnish big local markets. 
On the south coast, the port of Southampton with 176,000 
inhabitants, the naval dockyard of Portsmouth (249,000) 
and Gosport (38,000), the great holiday resort of Bourne- 
mouth (117,000), and the port of Poole (57,000), together 
in this strip of the south coast hold one-quarter of the 
population of the province (excluding Middlesex) . Reading, 
roughly the centre of the province, has a population of 
97,000. Oxford further north has 81,000, and still further 
north, the leather industry towns of Northampton, Ketter- 
ing, and Wellingborough together have about 145,000 
inhabitants. Peterborough in the extreme northern border 
of the province is a town of 44,000 inhabitants. 

The position of London and the location of these other 
large centres of population provide the province with 
excellent main lines of communication both by road and 
rail, but many parts of the country are comparatively 
remote from good railway transport. 

The main physical features of the province are fairly 
simple. Except for a few small patches, none of the land 
is over 800 feet above sea-level. Two main ridges of high 
land, however, rising above 400 feet, divide the province. 
A belt of limestone uplands run along the north-west border 
in the counties of Oxford and Northampton. To the east 
of this ridge the country slopes down to the wide plain 
of the Eastern counties stretching almost unbroken to the 
Norfolk coast. To the south of the ridge lies the wide valley 
drained by the Thames and its upper tributaries round 
Oxford and the Vale of Aylesbury. On the south of this 
valley the ridge of chalk hills rises sharply. The Thames 
cuts through this ridge in a narrow gorge just above Reading, 
dividing the range into two parts, the Berkshire Downs to 
the west and the Chiltern Hills to the east. The ridge of 
the latter is comparatively narrow and slopes down on the 
south into the lower valley of the Thames. The chalk, 
however, rises again on the south of the Thames and forms 


another broad range in Hampshire, stretching southwards 
almost to the coast, as well as westwards to the south-west 
corner of Dorset. 

The rainfall of the province exhibits a range from moder- 
ate to rather dry conditions as one moves northwards. 
The greater part of Dorset and Hampshire has over 30 inches 
per annum, while in the Thames Valley and in parts of 
Northamptonshire there is less than 25 inches. 

The system of land tenure throughout the province is 
still mainly a tenancy system, though since the War there 
has been, as in the rest of the country, a big increase in 
the number of farmers who are their own landlords. Farms 
vary in size from small part-time holdings, mostly near the 
towns, to holdings of over a thousand acres, particularly on 
the Chalk Downs. In Middlesex, for example, according 
to the official statistics, 74 per cent of the holdings are 
under 50 acres and only 9 per cent are over 150 acres. 
In the county of Northampton, on the other hand, 55 per 
cent of the holdings are over 50 acres and 28 per cent over 
150 acres. The average size of farms in Northamptonshire 
is 115 acres as compared with 68 acres for the whole of 

The regular employment of labour per 1,000 acres is on 
the whole higher than the average for the country. The 
average number of males regularly employed in England 
is 21 *8 per 1,000 acres. The counties of Northampton and 
Oxford, with 14-4 and 17-0 respectively per 1,000 acres, 
have a lower average due in the main to the prevalence 
of larger arable and grass farms. Buckinghamshire with 21*6, 
Dorset with 22 i, Berkshire with 23 8, and Hants with 26 2 
are about average. Middlesex, on the other hand, with its 
large proportion of market gardening, has a regular employ- 
ment of 102-3 men P er i>ooo acres. The regular employ- 
ment of women in the various counties is small, being about 
i per 1,000 acres, except in Middlesex where as many as 
24 per 1,000 acres are employed. The employment of casual 


male labour is between 2 and 3 per 1,000 acres in the 
various counties, with the exception of Hampshire, where 
it is almost 4 per 1,000 acres, and Middlesex where it is 
as high as 10 per 1,000 acres. The employment of women 
casuals is also average in all counties except in Hampshire, 
where it is nearly 2 per 1,000 acres, and Middlesex where 
it is 10 per 1,000 acres. Minimum wage-rates are for all 
counties round about 315. per week for adult male workers, 
but in Middlesex and the vicinity of London they are about 
33. per week higher. 

The agriculture of the province is naturally very varied. 
Certain areas are traditionally and ideally pasture land, 
while others are equally clearly defined as arable districts. 
During recent years, however, there has been a substantial 
growth of dairy farming for milk production throughout 
most of the area. Certain districts such as the Vale of 
Aylesbury and the lower Thames Valley are old-established 
milk-producing regions, but milk production has been 
steadily encroaching in other parts, which formerly were 
not considered particularly suitable. Arable farming, on 
the other hand, belongs mainly to the higher land in 
Oxford and Northampton and to the Chalk Downs in Bucks, 
Berks, Hants, and a portion of Dorset. 

The general configuration of the province enables us to 
divide it roughly into five main regions for the purpose of 
more detailed description, but it need hardly be emphasized 
that these regions are not homogeneous agriculturally, all 
of them having two or three main types of farming within 
their roughly-defined boundaries. 

The regions which will be taken for the purpose of further 
description are : 

I. The South Coast Region 
II. The Chalk Downs 

III. The Lower Thames Valley 

IV. The Upper Thames Valley and the Vale of Aylesbury 
V. The Oxfordshire Uplands and Northamptonshire 



This region stretches for about 90 miles along the south 
coast from Hayling Island in the east to Lyme Regis in the 
west. It includes the whole of Dorset and part of Hamp- 
shire lying between the chalk downs and the sea. 

There is little or no uniformity about the farming in the 
region. In the extreme south of Dorset, there is a jumble of 
strata occurring in narrow outcrops and giving very rapid 
soil changes. Within eight miles of Portland, for example, 
no fewer than eleven different geological strata may be 
distinguished. This area, which stretches along the coast 
from Abbotsbury to Swanage, is very hilly. On the soils 
of the Middle and Upper Lias in the west, medium clays 
and loams of a fertile nature are found. Mixed farming 
is practised, but grass predominates and the production 
of milk for liquid sale is the chief interest. Good arable 
land is found on many of the farms and this is worked on 
the four-course system. Usually, however, arable land forms 
only a relatively small proportion of the holdings and the 
tendency is to reduce even this acreage. The farms on the 
whole are small, though in the Dorchester district and in 
the valley of the Frome large dairy farms are found. In 
this district the old west-country custom of hiring the dairy 
to a dairyman still obtains. Under this custom, similar to 
the Scottish "bowing" system, the farmer supplies the cows 
and the food and the dairyman is responsible for the 
management and the labour of the dairy. This countryside 
is also the home of the famous Dorset "Blue Vinny" cheese, 
the supply of which is now said to be hardly sufficient to 
meet the demands of Dorset dinners in London. On the 
east side of this area, the proximity of Bournemouth has 
tended to quicken the intensity of the farming toward 
milk, poultry, market gardening, and fruit-growing. 

The central part of Dorset belongs to the chalk formation, 
and the type of farming and its problems are very similar 


to that found in other parts of the province and will be 
described later in Region n. 

In the north-west part of Dorset lies a grassland belt 
where dairying is well established as the primary interest 
of the farmers. The centre of this farming is in the Black- 
more Vale and the Vale of Shaftesbury, where the heavy 
soils of the Kimmeridge Clay give rise to excellent pastures. 
A writer of 1855 describes this district as "a fine grazing 
country, which will rear oxen as bulky as the red sandstone 
vales and alluvial marshes of Somerset and grow oaks of 
120 cubic feet." Now, the grazier of beef oxen has given 
way to the dairy farmer, and in more recent years the 
system of dairying has changed from butter and cheese 
making on the farm, with pig-feeding as a subsidiary enter- 
prise, to the selling of milk. At present, the big majority 
of the farms can be described as grassland dairy holdings 
depending in the main on the sale of milk, but with pigs 
and especially poultry as increasingly important sidelines. 
Small and medium-sized farms of under 150 acres pre- 
dominate, and although a number of large farms may be 
found, it is the family farm which is typical of this "vale of 
little dairies." 

Much of the division of Hampshire which lies within this 
South-Coast Region contains tracts of heavy clay land 
largely under permanent pasture. Proximity to the highly 
populated centres of Bournemouth, Southampton, and 
Portsmouth accounts for the development of milk produc- 
tion, a development which has extended rapidly since the 
advent of motor transport. Proximity to the large towns 
also accounts for the growth of market gardening and fruit- 
growing. In the vicinity of Bournemouth, for example, 
several large colonies of smallholders are engaged in the 
production of fruit and vegetables. 

One special area is worthy of mention. Inland from 
Southampton Water is to be found one of the chief centres 
in the country for the growing of early strawberries. The 


industry was established in the district some fifty years ago, 
and development has been rapid. Several factors combine 
to give the district its favourable position. The climate 
enables ripening to take place a few days earlier than most 
other districts, and with the well-established localized pro- 
duction and the excellent railroad facilities provided by 
the proximity of Southampton, the fruit can be transported 
quickly and efficiently to literally every important town in 
the country. The industry is in the hands of small pro- 
ducers, many of whom have 3 acres or less and are dependent 
on these for their livelihood. Since 1925 the acreage has 
been contracting, and the industry has been passing through 
difficult times, partly due to the level of prices and partly 
to "degeneration" of strains to which the strawberry plant 
appears to be prone. 

Extensive tracts of this part of Hampshire are covered 
with barren sandy soils occupied by the New Forest and 
the heaths, and are of little agricultural value. 

Farming in the Isle of Wight, which lies within this Region, 
does not differ essentially from that of the adjacent mainland. 
The majority of the farms are small, and mixed farming is 
prevalent. Milk production has developed here as else- 
where, and is the main concern of the farmers, though 
poultry, fruit, and vegetables have also developed as a 
result of the island's importance as a holiday resort. 


The geological formation of the chalk with its characteristic 
appearance and farming, covers a large area of the province 
in Hampshire, where it covers half the county, in Berk- 
shire, and in Buckinghamshire. As already mentioned, the 
central part of Dorset is also a part of the Downs. Apart 
from the portion in Dorset, the chalk belt in the province 
divides itself into three sections, the broad belt covering 



the northern half of Hampshire, the Berkshire section which 
enters the province from Wiltshire and runs eastward to 
where the Thames cuts its way through near Goring, and 
the steep narrow ridge of Buckinghamshire which runs 
north-east from the Thames at Goring until it passes out 
of the province into Hertfordshire. 

Each of these sections of the chalk has one or two features 
of its own, but the general configuration and the farming 
conditions are the same in all sections, as they are for all 
other areas in the country where chalk land farming exists. 
The land lies for the most part between 400 and 500 feet 
in a series of undulating rounded hills or "downs." The 
higher tops of the downs are covered in their natural state 
with characteristic short grass mainly left as "open down" 
or "sheep walk." Rougher pasture is found on large tracts 
(where there is a gravel coating), and much of this is 
covered by gorse and bush. Until recently, however, the 
greater part of the Downs was under the plough with the 
exception of the narrow valley pastures, the steeper hill- 
sides, and the highest peaks. Many of the valleys, particu- 
larly in Dorset, are narrow and steep. The typical farm is 
large with open fields devoid of hedges. Many of the farms 
are rectangular in shape running up from the farmstead 
in the valley or "bottom land" to the top of the down 

The traditional farming system of the Downs in this region, 
as elsewhere in the country, is "corn and sheep," the corn 
crop, mainly barley, preceded by roots and followed by 
clovers folded off to the sheep, whose treading was considered 
essential to maintaining fertility in the not naturally fertile 
soil. The system was at its heyday some sixty or seventy 
years ago, but the fall in the demand for barley, and the 
expensive system of feeding sheep in folds as well as a change 
in the public demand away from the type of heavy Down 
sheep on which this system of farming relied, has created 
difficult times for the chalk-land farmer. Both the arable 


acreage and the numbers of sheep have declined rapidly 
in recent years. 

Farming on the Downs, especially in Dorset and Hamp- 
shire, still retains for the most part its traditional appear- 
ance, but transition and experiment are going on almost 
everywhere. The efforts to solve a difficult problem are so 
various that only the main trends can be outlined. A 
number of farmers adhere to the conventional corn and 
sheep system, with slight modifications, such as in the direc- 
tion of earlier maturing sheep for the production of fat 
lambs and young mutton. Hampshire was one of the first 
counties to lead the way in this direction as far back as the 
end of last century. In the management of the arable land 
variations are being made in the orthodox four-course 
towards increased acreage of catch crops such as rye, vetches, 
trifolium, and winter greens. 

The major trend, however, has been to reduce the arable 
acreage by laying down land to grass. The grass is utilized 
in one of two ways, either by the introduction of cross-bred 
sheep capable of running on both grass and folded crops, 
or by introducing a dairy herd. The chief obstacle to the 
latter is the inadequate water supply and the need for 
subdividing the large fields into smaller grazing units as 
well as the provision of dairy buildings. Nevertheless, all 
over the chalk country, and especially in those districts 
which have the advantage of easy access to the market, 
many farmers have overcome these difficulties. Existing 
buildings have been adapted and new cowsheds erected, 
water has been laid on, and dairying on more or less normal 
lines is being practised. In addition poultry have been 
accepted as a serious branch of the farm. By these means, 
chalk-land farmers have diversified their systems and 
reduced their dependence on the old corn and sheep 

In two directions, however, more radical change has been 
made. A number of farmers, by adopting the "open-air 


bail" system have been able to practise a system of grass- 
land farming entirely, even on the more exposed sections 
of their holdings. There is an economy of buildings and 
labour and an improvement in the pasture land by the 
rotation of grazing and by the direct application of all dung 
to the land, and careful spreading with harrows. Poultry 
are also being run on the same lines. At the other extreme 
a number of men, some of them "new" farmers, have 
abandoned live stock and grass entirely and by mechanical 
equipment of tractors and combine harvesters cultivate the 
land entirely for cereal crops, using only artificial manures 
and a periodic fallow or fallow crop. 

One of the main obstacles to readjustment is the lack of 
capital, which radical change, either in laying down of 
grass or fencing or buildings, requires in this region. Large 
tracts, particularly in North Hampshire, are in a low state 
of productivity, and in places are fast reverting to their 
natural state of scrub and bush. 

Within the rough boundaries drawn round this Chalk 
Farming Region there are several valleys which do not 
come within the general description, but these can best 
be dealt with as spurs of the adjacent regions. 


This region lies like a blunt wedge between the ridges of 
chalk in Buckinghamshire on the one side and of Hamp- 
shire and Berkshire on the other side. The Thames from 
Goring and Reading to London flows sluggishly through it. 
The agriculture of the region varies, but milk production 
on grassland is the most typical feature of the general 

On the north side of the river, lying entirely in Bucking- 
hamshire, a narrow strip of fertile land between the river 
and the Chilterns has long been noted for its dairy farms. 
On the south side of the river, lying in Berkshire, conditions 


are more variable. At the western extremity of this region 
the valleys of the Kennet and the Loddon pierce the chalk. 
The tracts of common land in the Kennet valley extending 
to Newbury are practically useless agriculturally. The once 
important industry of osier growing in this district is rapidly 
disappearing. Water conditions have a deciding influence 
on the agricultural practice, for much of the valley is subject 
to seasonal flooding and there is little alternative to grass- 
land farming. Again in the south-eastern corner of the 
region round Wokingham, the most infertile district in the 
whole of Berkshire is found, covered by deposits of coarse 
sand and gravel. With these exceptions, and one or two 
special areas to be mentioned later, dairying, mostly on 
grass, is the chief occupation of the farmers on the south 
side of the Thames. The neighbourhood of Reading is 
specially noteworthy for the progress made in the direction 
of producing the higher grades of milk from tuberculin- 
tested herds, a condition of affairs in keeping with the 
location of the National Institute for Research in Dairying 
at Reading University. 

The whole of this region has also seen an increasing 
attention to poultry, both on general farms and on special- 
ized holdings. On the southern slopes of the Chilterns, that 
is, on the north side of this region, the well-known cherry 
orchards are found, some of them attached to farms and 
some conducted as distinct businesses. Mention should also 
be made of the quasi-agricultural industry of the Chiltern 
beechwoods which supply the raw material for the important 
chair and small furniture factories of High Wycombe and 
the neighbouring villages. 

As this region approaches London, practically the whole 
of Middlesex and the adjacent corners of Berkshire and 
Buckinghamshire are devoted to nurseries, market gardens, 
and glass houses. Writing in 1815, John Middleton empha- 
sized the many points of difference then existing between 
Middlesex farming and farming in other parts of the country, 


especially the absence of live stock farming, the production 
of hay for London, and the progressive position of market 
gardening and fruit-growing. The difference to-day is even 
more marked in those parts of the county which are still 
left to agriculture from the unparalleled spread during the 
last half-century of the metropolis, Cobbett's "great wen." 

According to official statistics, Middlesex has at present 
approximately 1,000 "farmers," but it is probable that fully 
half of these are interested in "farming" to only a small 
extent. The remainder are roughly divided equally between 
dairy farms and fruit and market garden holdings, together 
with a number of specialized pig and poultry holdings. 
The dairy farms, which are small in size, are mostly in the 
north-west of the county on the borders of Hertfordshire. 
Market gardening and fruit are most concentrated in the 
level plain of the Thames in the south-west of Middlesex 
and adjacent corners of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, 
and in the famous Lea Valley, in the north-east of Middle- 
sex, where many acres are under glass, producing high-cost 
products such as tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, and early 


This region is a stretch of level plain, covering the north- 
west corner of Berkshire, south Oxfordshire, and the whole 
of Buckinghamshire, which lies north of the downs. With 
one or two exceptions dairy farming is general throughout 
this region at the present time, but one or two areas deserve 
special mention. In the valley of the Upper Thames itself 
dairying is well established, the flooded meadows making 
good dairying land. Mixed farming with milk selling as the 
chief business predominates. The farms are larger than in 
the more typical grassland area and carry a proportion of 
arable. This dairying area follows the Thames upwards 


across the Berkshire border into the Vale of the White 
Horse, as well as northward into the belt of Oxford Clay, 
which stretches from Bampton in the south-west of Oxford- 
shire to Bicester in the east of that county. Here milk selling 
is almost universal, and accounts for probably half the 
total farming income. The typical farm is from 150 to 
200 acres in size and may have about a quarter of its land 
under the plough. Wheat is usually sold from the small 
acreage of arable, but nearly nine-tenths of the farm receipts 
come from live stock and live stock products. In addition 
to the dairy herds, the farms carry small flocks of sheep and 
a poultry unit. 

In the east of the region, i.e. west of Oxford, the land is 
even more typically dairy country. The Vale of Aylesbury 
and particularly the tenacious clay soils to the north have 
for long been regarded as essentially grassland districts. 
Dairying was early established, and the change over from 
farmhouse processing to liquid sale was accomplished at 
an early date when this area became one of the chief sources 
of London's fresh milk supply. As early as 1888 the British 
Dairy Farmers' Association selected the town of Aylesbury 
as the site for the first British Dairy Institute. 

The once celebrated industry of duck rearing in the 
Aylesbury neighbourhood failed to survive the setback it 
obtained in the years 1914 to 1917, and is fast dis- 

In the north-west boundary of this region, where Bucking- 
hamshire borders on Northamptonshire, stock raising and 
cattle feeding are of some importance and sheep, of the 
grassland breeds, are more numerous. 

One district within this region is celebrated for its fruit, 
particularly cherries and apples. It lies in the north-west 
of Berkshire and stretches northwards from the downland 
above Moulsford and Wantage to Abingdon in the east 
and Hinton Waldrist in the north-west. It coincides roughly 
with the Upper Greensand on which most of the orchards 


are found. Orchards are usually attached to the large farms, 
cottages, and private houses, and the number of specialized 
fruit-growers is small. In recent years, many of the orchards 
(most of them over fifty years old) have been allowed to 
deteriorate, but, in others, where modernized methods of 
management are in use, the productivity has been greatly 


This region includes the remainder of the province and 
covers the north-west of Oxfordshire and the whole of 
Northamptonshire. Most of it is high land, lying above 
400 feet, the exception being the western half of Northamp- 
tonshire which lies in the valley of the river Nene. 

The south-west part of this region belongs to the Cotswold 
country, described also in the West of England Counties. 
The great Oolite and corn-brash formations give rise to a 
system of arable farming which is perhaps the most typical 
of Oxfordshire farming. This stretch of rolling hills and 
valleys with its brown ploughland, its characteristic stone- 
built villages and stone walls instead of hedges, is farmed in 
large holdings averaging about 300 acres. From 60 to 80 per 
cent of the land is arable and the soil may be described 
as typical "sheep and barley land. 55 It is a light stony (brashy) 
soil, never of any great depth. The farming problems of the 
area have, therefore, much in common with the chalk 
country. Barley was formerly the chief grain crop but the 
superiority of other districts in growing good malting barley 
has led to wheat being the more important grain crop at 
present. The folding of sheep on roots and the feeding of 
bullocks in yards used to be the chief live stock enterprises. 
As in other districts, however, milk production is taking 
their place. Oxford Down sheep have been replaced by 
the grass breeds and their crosses. Pig-keeping, always 
relatively important in the area, has been on the increase, 


and poultry have now become an important item on many 

To the north of the Cotswold country, around Banbury, 
there are red iron-stone soils on the Lias formation where 
mixed farming is carried on, often with a high proportion 
of arable land. This is the home of the Oxford Down breed 
of sheep. Much of the land is undulating, and in the valleys 
is often under grass. The arable farms are more diversified 
than in the Cotswolds. Milk is the chief product, good 
malting barley is obtained and potatoes, sugar beet, and 
peas are found in the rotation. Compared with the Cots- 
wolds, the land is more productive, farms are smaller, and 
more labour is employed. 

Passing into Northamptonshire to the west of Banbury, 
we encounter another arable farming area round Brackley 
and extending to Towcester and Stony Stratford. These 
are limestone soils forming part of the Oolite. From Tow- 
cester these soils diverge to the east, linking nearly the whole 
of that side of the county south of the river Nene, from 
Northampton to Thrapston. The same soils are found also 
in the extreme north of the county, south of Stamford and 
meeting the red soils at Finedon. This countiy is similar 
to the Cotswolds in its natural features and in its farming 
systems. The farms are generally large, corn (especially 
wheat) and sheep are important products, but the farming 
is very varied, dairying being important, pigs and poultry 
becoming increasingly popular in recent years. In the 
northern parts sugar beet is now an important sale crop 
and occupies from 10 to 15 per cent of the arable 

The other main arable area of Northamptonshire consists 
of a strip of red soils running through the middle of the 
county in a north-easterly direction and branching out 
from Northampton to Market Harborough, Kettering, and 
Wellingborough. This is described generally as ' 'turnip and 
sheep" land and many sheep flocks are still maintained, 


though dairying is making considerable inroads as the main 
live stock enterprise. 

Taking the county of Northampton as a whole, however, 
practically three-quarters of the farmed area is under grass. 
Nearly the whole of the western half is grassland. The pro- 
duction of milk for sale in the neighbouring towns and for 
export to London is predominant and is found all over the 
county. Dairy farming is, however, of first importance in 
the river valleys, particularly of the Nene and the Welland. 
These contain stretches of natural meadow land, often 
flooded in winter, which provide ample hay and summer 
grazing. On all the second-class pasture which constitutes 
the bulk of the grassland of the county, milk production is 
the characteristic feature. 

The description of Northamptonshire, however, would 
not be complete without reference to the celebrated rich 
feeding pastures which are found in the west of the county 
from Daventry to Northampton and thence towards Clipston 
and Market Harborough. Bullock fattening on grass is the 
characteristic of this exceptional area. The greater part oi 
this Midland grazing industry is carried on in the neigh- 
bouring county of Leicestershire and a description of the 
system is given in the account of the East Midland Counties, 

Chapter IX 

The South-Western Counties 




Seale-Hqyne Agricultural College, Devon 


The South- Western Counties 

THIS province comprises the two counties of Cornwall and 
Devon, and forms the south-west peninsula of England. Its 
boundaries are the coast except where in the north-east 
and east it adjoins the provinces of the West of England 
Counties and of the South and South Midland Counties. The 
total land area of the province is about 2,533,000 acres, of 
which 1,739,000 acres are in crops and grass and a further 
417,000 acres are classed as rough grazings, leaving 376,000 
acres in non-agricultural land, either in timber, in urban 
and recreational use, or as completely waste land. Compared 
with many parts of the country the population of the area 
is very sparse. What is perhaps of equal importance is the 
absence of any large consuming centre in the adjacent 
counties. In fact, west of Bournemouth and Bristol, the only 
towns of any size are Plymouth, with a population of 
208,000, Exeter with 66,000, and Torquay with 46,000. 
Camborne is the largest town in Cornwall, but the popu- 
lation is only 14,000, and Truro, the capital of the Duchy, 
has no more than 1 1,000 inhabitants. Thus it is not difficult 
to realize that many parts of the South-west must look to 
markets far afield for the disposal of much of their produce, 
and large quantities of produce, live and dead, are exported 
to other parts of England. 

But to stress unduly the absence of large towns in and 
near the province tends to underrate the importance of the 
local demand. Cornwall particularly has an industrial 
population, though the mining industry that once put the 
Duchy in the forefront of industrial England is now a 
shadow of its former self. The importance of mining and 
fishing, and the relative insignificance of agriculture, is 
implied in the county toast "Fish, tin, and copper/' and 


it is only in the last one hundred and fifty years (when in 
other parts of England agriculture has been forced to make 
way for industry) that Cornwall has come to be considered 
an agricultural county. The density of the permanently 
resident population of both Devon and Cornwall is 0-4 
person per acre, compared with i *g in a comparatively 
industrial area like the West Riding of Yorkshire. 

The amenities of the climate and the beauty of the 
scenery, however, draw an ever increasing number of 
summer visitors to the coast, and this influx creates a by 
no means insignificant demand for certain farm products, 
besides, in the way of board, lodging, and camping sites, 
affording the more enterprising or less affluent farm families 
a very acceptable addition to what has only too often 
become a dwindling income from farming. 

Possibly for its size no area yields such a variety of farming 
systems as the South-west. It is true that few parts of it 
have a large proportion of the land under the plough, and 
that stock farming predominates in most districts. But there 
is very little uniformity in the system followed in any area 
of size, and sometimes a few miles' journey will take one 
into very different types of farming. 

An outline of the main features of the topography of the 
province is given in the map. 

Rainfall in most parts of the South-west is well above 
the average of the country, and the high precipitation affects 
both the lime and the humus content of the soil in many 
parts. There is no doubt that one reason for the lime 
deficiency and general poverty of the higher lying parts 
of Devon and Cornwall is the leaching of fertilizing ingredi- 
ents that is brought about by the abnormally high rainfall. 
The relationship between rainfall and k humus content 
depends on the high nitrification that is a feature of soil 
life in this part of the world. This depends on, and is closely 
related to, the amount of rainfall, and it is partly to the 
high humus content which results from this nitrification 


that Devon and Cornwall owe their early grass, their out- 
of-season vegetables, and the possibility of developing the 
flower trade. On the other hand, certain diseases of fruit- 
trees, such as canker, and of strawberries, must also be 
attributed to the phenomenon of winter activity of the soil. 

A third natural factor that is capable of exercising a 
considerable effect on the farming of the district is the soil. 
There is more connection between soil and geological for- 
mation in the South-west than in most parts of Great 
Britain, as there has been no glacial drift to superimpose 
an alien soil on to the original geological formation in these 
parts. A consideration of the geology of the area gives, 
therefore, a fairly correct impression of its agricultural soils. 

The map showing the topography of the South-west 
indicates igneous outcrops that occur, like the vertebrae 
of a backbone, at more of less regular intervals from the 
middle of Devon to farthest Cornwall. These are granite 
outcrops, and the fertility of the soil to which they give 
rise depends partly on their altitude, partly on the mineral 
structure of the rock. Where the granite consists pre- 
dominantly of felspar, the overlying soil will usually be 
very fertile and productive. But if quartz predominates 
there will be little agricultural value in the soil. 

The first granite outcrop as one moves west, and the 
largest, is Dartmoor. Much of the moor is more than 
1,500 feet above sea-level, and comparatively little of it 
is enclosed or cultivated at all. Dartmoor extends from 
within ten miles of Exeter almost to the Cornish border. 
Almost directly beyond the Tamar the second outcrop 
appears. This is known as the Cornish (or Bodmin) moors. 
It is very similar to Dartmoor and is, in fact, a continuation 
of it. The Bodmin moors cover most of the country between 
Launceston and Bodmin. 

West of Bodmin there is a further granite outcrop, but 
this is not so wild nor so rugged as Dartmoor and the 
Bodmin moors. It is the centre of the Cornish china clay 


industry, but does not sustain much agriculture. The fourth 
outcrop appears between Truro and Redruth, and the fifth 
is in the extreme west, between and around St. Ives and 
Penzance. These two outcrops are mainly under cultivation, 
and the soil is known locally as "growan." They produce 
heavy crops and carry a very large number of stock, mainly 
dairy cattle and pigs, per acre. 

Most of the moorland of the South-west is on the infertile 
granite that has already been described. Other moorland 
regions in the two counties are that part of Exmoor that is 
in Devon, and various regions of rough (often undrained) 
grassland scattered throughout the province. 

But the South-west is noted for its fertile soils rather than 
for its infertile spaces, and it is fair to say that the vast 
majority of the soils of the area still to be described are 
fertile loams, well drained and easily worked. In East 
Devon there are some light gravelly soils, but heavy clays 
such as are found in some parts of Britain are practically 

Most of the outstandingly fertile soils in the South-west 
are associated wholly or in part with basic igneous rocks 
(outcrops of which are found almost in every point from 
Exeter to Kingsbridge) . In Cornwall this type of rock is 
not found to the same extent as in Devon, but gives rise 
to a few exceptionally rich soils on so-called elvan and dun- 
stone as round Penzance (Gulval), St. Keverne, and Truro. 
The calcareous deposits in South Devon undoubtedly 
account in large measure for the richness of the South Ham 
soils and the absence of such deposits in North-west Devon 
and Cornwall is responsible for the relative poorness of the 
soils of these areas. 

Another geological formation that also gives rise to a very 
fertile soil is the marl and sandstone area that stretches 
along the coast from Paignton to Exeter and then forks 
northward to Tiverton and Cullompton and westward to 
Crediton and Hatherleigh. 


The soil in East Devon hardly attains the same level of 
fertility as in Mid Devon and South Devon. The marly 
deposits in the valleys are used mainly for permanent grass, 
but much of the soil is gravel and greensand. This remains 
woodland or heath. 

The large part of the county that comprises North-west 
Devon, i.e. from Exeter to Cornwall and from Dartmoor 
to South Molton, is situated on two types of rock with two 
different types of soil. Both are culm measures, but the soil 
in the north-west of the county is derived from shale and 
is a clay loam in character, very wet and cold in the valleys, 
whereas at the eastern end of the culm measures the pre- 
dominating rock gives rise to a reddish sandy loam. Both 
these soils are deficient in lime and phosphates, but they 
respond readily to treatment. 

Most of Cornwall, except for the granite outcrops, is on 
a freeworking loam soil. In parts of it the rocks are of 
igneous origin and these give rise to the most fertile soils. 
The North-east of Cornwall, however, lies on the culm 
measures and is similar to much of North Devon, while the 
Lizard peninsula is composed mainly of a serpentine for- 
mation that is almost unique. The soil derived from the 
serpentine is particularly unproductive, owing to the large 
proportion of magnesia contained in it. The serpentine 
gives way to a more fertile formation in the extreme south 
of the Lizard peninsula, but parts of this peninsula are as 
unproductive as any in Cornwall. 

To sum up, South Devon depends for its high level of 
fertility on basic igneous rocks and limestone. In Cornwall 
there are no limestone deposits, and the only soils that are 
not seriously deficient in calcium are those on the shales 
in East Cornwall and on the basic igneous rocks round 
Penzance, Truro, St. Keverne, etc. The cultivation of the 
granite areas is possible only by reason of the calcareous 
sand from Hayle and other places round the coast. 

Devon and Cornwall could be divided into an almost 



countless number of agricultural regions, but for the pur- 
pose of this survey it will be sufficient to indicate six main 
regions within most of which some marked variations occur. 
The regions are as follows : 

I. East Devon 

II. Mid Devon 

III. North Devon and North Cornwall 

IV. South Devon and South Cornwall 
V. West Cornwall 

VI. Moorland 

To these is added a brief reference to the Scilly Isles. 


Mixed farms, worked largely by family labour and mainly 
devoted to dairying, are typical of East Devon. The area 
to the east of Honiton is more densely stocked with dairy 
cows than any other part of Devon. More than one hundred 
years ago this area was a noted dairying district, and butter 
was produced in the Honiton district to be sold in London. 
Dairying has persisted since those days, but the advent of 
milk factories in the area or just over the border in Somerset 
has diminished the farmhouse butter-making industry con- 
siderably. Most of the milk is now sold direct off the farm 
to the factory. The predominant breed is the Devon, but 
a rather "milkier" strain of Devon than the "Red Rubies" 
of the Barnstaple district. 

More pigs are kept in East Devon than in any other 
part of the county. Apart from the fact that the farms are 
small, it is probable that the traditional system of farm 
butter-making was largely responsible for the importance 
of this class of stock. Latest statistics show that with the 
decrease in farm butter-making, the relative importance of 
pigs in East Devon is tending to diminish, compared with 
the rest of the county. The favourite breed of pig is the 


A small district in this area, around Cullompton and 
along the road to Honiton, has a large number of specialized 
poultry farms and other farms where poultry contribute a 
large proportion of the farm income. Many eggs are sold 
on the London market and in other large cities. Cider-apple 
orchards are a noticeable feature and cover about 3 per 
cent of the farm land. The proportion of land under the 
plough is small, and there are no outstanding arable crops. 
The cropping is based on the four-course rotation, and in 
this East Devon differs from all other parts of the South- 
west except the Mid Devon plain. The system of long leys 
is almost entirely absent. 


This term is used to define the area of comparatively level 
and low-lying land which extends from the Somerset border 
to the Haldon Hills some four or five miles west of Exeter. 
The soil is very red, fertile, and easy working. The propor- 
tion of land under the plough is 30 per cent of the total 
farm area, which is well above the average of the county. 
Whether it is due to the fertility of the land, the com- 
parative levelness of the countryside, or to some other cause, 
the farms in this area tend to be larger than in other parts 
of the South-west. One gets the impression that farming 
is being carried on more as a business and less as a 
living, though it would be unwise to push this distinction 
too far. 

Mixed farming is the rule, with malting barley on the 
lighter soils and wheat on the heavier soils. The quality 
of the barley grown in this neighbourhood is very high, and 
the Exeter brewers can usually afford to give a very satis- 
factory price for it. The arable rotation is based on the 
four-course, as in East Devon. The cider orchards are chiefly 
in the valleys and hollows, and they afford no inconsiderable 
part of the income on many farms. Farm cider-making, 


however, has been almost completely superseded by factory 

Sheep are essential on the barley-growing farms. Many 
produce fat lambs for Easter and the early summer months, 
and buy in hoggs later to fold on turnips. The Longwool 
breed, once supreme, is being displaced to a considerable 
extent by Dorset Downs and other Down breeds. The 
Longwool ewe maintains her popularity fairly well, but the 
ram is being replaced on nearly all farms except the small 
one-ram flocks where the ewe hoggs are retained for breeding. 
A few farmers go in for pig farming on a large scale, but 
not many pigs are kept on most farms. 

The Devon is the most popular breed of cattle, both for 
dairy purposes and for feeding, though on the famous 
Exminster marshes South Devons are preferred. Some of 
the grassland is particularly good on a particular field of 
20 acres between Exeter and Cullompton as many as 28 
steers are finished regularly every year. 

One district of special interest in Mid Devon is an area 
situated between Exeter and Dartmoor which is noted for 
its production of maincrop potatoes. In a recent year as 
much as 1,309 acres of potatoes were grown from a district 
which has a total of 23,353 acres of crops and grass. This 
represents an intensity of 56 acres per i ,000 acres, compared 
with the average of about 8 per 1,000 acres throughout the 
province. Elsewhere in the province main crop potatoes 
are not an important crop, few farms growing more than 
sufficient to provide for the farm family and for the 

The soil of this Mid Devon potato-growing area is light 
and easy working. Most of it is a light granite, but some 
of the lower lying parishes on the eastern side nearer Exeter 
are situated on soils locally known as woodstone and dun- 
stone. The rainfall of the area varies from less than 40 inches 
per year on the eastern side to 60 inches on the west, near 
Dartmoor. Much of the east side and the valley from 


Moretonhampstead to Bovey Tracey is not more than 
300 feet above sea-level, but most of the land is more than 
750 feet. 

There is no large consuming centre in the area itself, 
but means of transport are good, both by road and rail, 
and the area provides most of South Devon from Exeter 
to Plymouth with potatoes, at any rate through the earlier 
part of the winter. 

Potatoes constitute the main feature of the farming of 
the district. The land does not grow good permanent grass. 
Rough grazings abound; there are between 7 and 7| acres 
of rough grazing for every 10 acres of crops and grass. The 
arable land is divided between corn, roots, and temporary 
grass in the proportions approximately of i : i : ij. 
Potatoes account for more than one-third of the root break. 
The only live stock of any importance in the district are 
sheep. Tanner, writing in 1848, states that the district was 
famed for the quality of its potatoes in his day, and he 
attributes this to the fine nature of the soil and to its supply 
of alkali potash. Another important reason for the popu- 
larity of potatoes in many parts of the area to-day is that 
since much of the land is owned by the Torquay Water- 
works, stock farming is discouraged anywhere near the 
reservoirs, and the many derelict farm buildings give an 
indication of the changes in farming that have been taking 
place. Four-fifths of the potatoes grown are either Kerr's 
Pink or Great Scot. These two varieties are grown in 
nearly equal proportions. 


This is a large area, and the type of farming differs some- 
what as one goes from east to west. The area is, however, 
homogeneous to this extent, that it relies for its living on 
the production of cattle and sheep. In some parts a good 
deal of corn farming is carried on, notably near Bideford 


in Devon and between Wadebridge and Newquay in Corn- 
wall, but most of the corn produced on the farms in these 
districts is fed to stock. 

This area is an importing area for calves and an exporting 
area for fat and store cattle. Cows are (or were until recently) 
judged more by beef standards and their ability to produce 
a good calf than by the amount of milk they give. Calves 
are reared by suckling, and the cows' own offspring are 
supplemented by calves bought from East Devon. These 
"wagoners," as they are called, derive their name from 
the wagon in which they used to be carried from farm to 
farm until they were sold. The best cows will rear 5 calves 
in this way before they are dried off. But the erection of 
milk factories at Lifton, Torrington, Lapford, and Lost- 
withiel, and the establishment of the Milk Marketing 
Board, coupled with the fall in the price of store cattle, 
has led many farmers to transfer their energies to milk 

The majority of the cattle are sold as stores at 18 months 
old, and are transferred to feeding farms in the southern 
counties, particularly in the neighbourhood of Chichester. 
Others are bought by feeders in Mid Devon, and many 
Cornish stores are bought to feed on the better grassland 
near Truro. Yet others are fattened in their own region. 

North Devon is particularly important for its sheep. 
Exmoors predominate in the hills in the north-east, Close- 
wools round Barnstaple, and Longwools in the remaining 
parts and in Cornwall. Many Longwool ewes are crossed 
with Hampshire Down, Dorset Down, or Southdown rams. 
Mutton and lamb from North Devon is sold on the Smith- 
field market through "dealer slaughtermen" who have a 
slaughter-house at most of the stations on the railway lines 
from Exeter to Holsworthy. This trade is being extended 
to pork pigs during certain months of the year, but pigs 
are of much less importance than sheep in the area. 



The farming of this area is most diversified. The typical 
holding is about 130 acres in size, with one-fifth or one- 
quarter of the land under the plough, a similar acreage to 
long leys in Devon, but considerably more in Cornwall, 
and the remainder permanent pasture, orchards, and water 

The dairy herd has usually 8 to 12 cows, the milk from 
which, until recently, was made into butter in winter and 
much of it into the more profitable clotted cream in summer. 
Before the Milk Marketing Board was established the liquid 
milk trade was confined to those farmers within convenient 
distance of the towns, but of late this side of the dairy 
business has been expanded at the expense of farm butter- 
making. The wider recognition of the virtues of Devonshire 
cream has led to an increase in this trade in the summer, 
again mainly at the expense of butter-making. On butter- 
making farms the cows are usually kept only to the second 
or third calf, and are then sold to dairymen. The heifer 
calves are reared, but bull calves may be sold for veal, or 
as stores at the local fairs, or they may be fattened at home 
for local consumption. 

Sheep are for the most part confined to farms of 100 acres 
or more. An average flock consists of some 40 South Devon 
or Dartmoor ewes which are crossed with rams of the same 
breeds, or with a Down ram when fat lambs are required. 
There are seldom more than two or three sows to a farm. 
Lop-ears or Large Blacks are the most popular breeds, and, 
of boars, Lop-ears and Large Whites. Poultry-keeping is a 
side line on the ordinary farm; on only a very few has it 
been developed on specialized lines. 

The old cider orchards of two or three acres, which adjoin 
almost every farmhouse, have been improved of late by 
thinning and replanting, but, as in other parts, nearly all 
the cider-making is now carried on in factories. 


The arable land is farmed on the extended rotation 
already described. The seeds leys are kept down for several 
years and are often followed by two, sometimes even three, 
corn crops. Of these oats is easily the most popular, except 
round Dartmouth and Kingsbridge, where excellent barley 
is grown. Heavy crops of mangolds are grown, and some 
farms in the extreme south have a reputation for growing 
mangolds of exceptional feeding qualities. 

As the Tamar, which forms the boundary of Cornwall 
and Devon, approaches Plymouth and the sea its banks on 
both sides become very steep, and in many parts they 
provide an aspect that is particularly well suited to fruit 
and flower growing. This is the well-known Tamar Valley 
fruit-growing area. The soil of this area is an easy working 
loam, and its position, near the sea and protected from 
rough weather, gives it a particularly equable climate. 

The fruit and flower-growing area extends from the out- 
skirts of Plymouth, Devonport, and Saltash, on both sides 
of the river for some 10 miles, nearly to Tavistock. Most 
of the holdings are very small indeed. They may be part- 
time holdings, or holdings just large enough to maintain 
the occupier and his family by intensive cultivation. Some 
larger farms have a small part of their acreage devoted to 
fruit farming and market gardening, but none of the market 
garden plots can be found far from the river banks. 

The area is best known for its strawberries, being almost 
the first strawberries of the season to be put on the market 
by reason of the extremely favourable conditions under which 
they are produced. Royal Sovereign is the most popular 
variety, and it is this variety that has done most to establish 
the district in the market. The tendency to desert Royal 
Sovereigns for higher yielding varieties of less high quality 
almost immediately had its repercussions on the trade in 
the shape of a diminished demand. Other fruits that are 
grown are raspberries and blackcurrants. 

The Tamar Valley is also renowned for its flower industry. 


The most important flower is Narcissus Double White, 
which flowers in May. This narcissus grows here better than 
anywhere else in Britain. The area is less important for 
vegetables than it is for fruit, but early potatoes are grown 
to some extent, and are usually introduced as a cleaning 
crop after strawberries. The Plymouth market creates a 
demand for lettuce, radishes, and other vegetables, but the 
quantities grown in this area are relatively unimportant 
compared with fruit culture. 


This area is exceptional in the small size of the farms and 
their high production per acre. Few farms exceed 100 acres 
in size, many are less than 50 acres, and there are also 
part-time holdings, smaller still. The part-time holdings are 
connected with tin mining. To the casual observer the 
district is distinguished by its apparent poverty. Remains 
of mine workings, chimney stacks, the cold granite of all 
the buildings, might comfort a homesick north countryman, 
but in conjunction with the spare frames of the Guernsey 
cattle (the predominant breed) they give an impression of 
neglect and starvation. Actually, however, this district pro- 
duces about 2? times as much per acre as most other parts 
of the South-west. Intensive application of man power, 
large expenditure on fertilisers and feeding stuffs, and a soil 
that responds particularly readily to liberal treatment, are 
the main causes of this phenomenon. 

The agriculture of the district is very mixed. Sale products 
are dairy produce, pigs, cattle, and poultry and eggs, 
generally in that order. The dairy produce is manufactured 
into butter, usually in factories, many of which are farmer 
owned. During the last two years farm butter-making has 
virtually disappeared in this area. Many of the cattle, 
especially in the far west, are predominantly Guernseys. 
Nearer Truro, and again in the Lizard peninsula, there are 


many Shorthorns. The low price of butter made the position 
of these farmers very precarious before the Milk Scheme 
eased matters to some extent. Guernsey breeders, however, 
obtained some respite in the form of a very flourishing trade 
that grew up in young Guernsey cows and heifers in certain 
up-country markets. Farmers were able to sell to dealers, 
who later offered the animals at Reading, Bristol, and else- 

The pig industry in West Cornwall has grown up side 
by side with the dairy industry. At many factories farmers 
wait while their own milk is being separated, so that they 
may take the skim home with them for pigs. Local bacon 
factories absorb some of the production, and some is taken 
by dealer-slaughtermen. Poultry farming in this area, as in 
other parts of Cornwall, is notable for the large number of 
packing stations through which the eggs pass en route to 
markets further afield. 

There is practically no permanent grass in West Cornwall. 
The only distinction is between rough grazing and arable. 
This is because all the farm land comes under a course of 
cropping in rotation. The usual crops grown are oats and 
dredge corn (a mixture of oats and barley), with a root 
break, containing besides mangolds and kale perhaps a few 
potatoes, broccoli, and flowers. 

The land around Mount's Bay is devoted to a special 
form of market gardening which has given a good deal of 
prominence to the agriculture of this part of the province. 
Cornwall shares with Kent the honour of growing a larger 
acreage of broccoli than any other part of the country. It 
is in the ^Mount's Bay area that most of the Cornish broccoli 
crop is grown, and it is to this part of the country that 
Cornwall owes her fame for market gardening in general 
and broccoli-growing in particular. 

The conditions that have led to the establishment of this 
intensive form of farming in a small area are natural rather 
than economic. The climate of West Cornwall is the balmiest 


of any in the South-west, and the aspect of the market 
gardening area, south, south-west, and south-east, with the 
land gently rising from Mount's Bay, the bay half encircled 
by the land, could not be improved upon. But the natural 
advantages do not end with climate and aspect. The soil, 
too, is as fertile as any in the whole of this province. It is 
formed from a mixture of trappean rocks, chiefly green- 
stones with argillaceous slates. This forms an extremely rich 
and friable loam soil, often deep, and as nearly perfect as 
is possible. The soil is, in fact, so fertile that it is often 
possible to grow two crops a year on it. Broccoli fits well 
into the rotation with early potatoes, and until quite recently 
a lot of early potatoes were grown in West Cornwall, and 
were straight away followed by broccoli, usually planted 
out in June and July. Foreign competition at one time 
resulted in a considerable reduction in early potato growing 
in West Cornwall, and flowers were substituted for potatoes 
to a considerable extent. The Horticultural Import Duties 
have done something to restore potato growing to its former 
position. Unlike the Tamar Valley area, very little fruit 
is grown in West Cornwall. 

Most of the crop is sold either in Covent Garden or in 
the industrial towns of the North. That this is possible 
without incurring phenomenal transport costs is due to the 
fact that the Great Western Railway has its main line 
running along the foot of the market-gardening area. 
Trucks in the sidings take the produce as it is brought 
from the fields in farm carts and lorries, and it is thus got 
to its destination with the minimum of expense. 


The greatest area of moorland in Devon and Cornwall is 
Dartmoor and the Cornish Moors between Launceston 
and Bodmin. Ordinary farming on these moors is confined 
to the valleys and coombs, and the farming followed exhibits 


much that is typical of the agriculture of South Devon and 
South Cornwall. The farms are small as measured by their 
enclosed acreage, but most of the farmers have rights of 
grazing on the unenclosed moor. The buildings are solid 
granite, built to withstand the gales of the moor. Natural 
conditions ordain that sheep farming is the most important 
branch of the system, but a good deal of stock-rearing takes 
place. Moorland cows sold in Newton Abbot market at 
their second or third calf often command very favourable 
prices. Oats and turnips are the principal arable crops, 
though potatoes are more important than in most parts of 
the South-west. 

Cattle and sheep from the lowlands are grazed on the 
unenclosed wilder portions of the moor in the summer 
under the supervision of a "moor man.' 9 Dartmoor is mainly 
stocked with South Devon cattle, though the Duchy of 
Cornwall Estate near Princetown has many Aberdeen- 
Angus. More Devons are to be found on the Cornish moors. 
The Dartmoor sheep, with white or grey faces, are a local 
breed, but flocks of Scotch Blackface are found here and 
there. A peculiar type of anaemia, which often proves fatal, 
is a serious disease and necessitates regular movement of 
sheep to the richer pastures of the lower districts. 


No account of the agriculture of Devon and Cornwall is 
complete that does not refer to the Scilly Isles. Geographi- 
cally these islands are nearly thirty miles west of Land's 
End, and of agriculture in the usually accepted sense of 
the term there is none, but what they lack in agriculture 
they certainly make up in a very intensive form of horti- 

It is impossible to say how many islands comprise the 
Scillies without defining the difference between an island 
and a rock. Less than half a dozen of them are inhabited 


and none of these is of any magnitude. The others may 
boast a lighthouse or a colony of sea-birds, or have nothing 
at all. No two are alike. The sub-tropical plants of Tresco 
give place to the gaunt bleakness of St. Martin's, with 
St. Mary's, the only island to boast a town, somewhere 
between the two. St. Mary's, the largest island, measures 
2 1 miles long and i miles wide, with a circumference of 

9 miles. The total population of the islands is about 2,000. 
The Scillies are rich in romance. They are supposed to 
have been connected at one time to the mainland by the 
land of Lyonesse, but according to legend this land was 
submerged on the day King Arthur died. 

Formerly the isles depended for material riches on kelp 
until this industry failed. A fishing company and a ship- 
building industry both collapsed, but necessity once more 
proving the mother of invention, the more enterprising 
nhabitants began to send narcissi to Co vent Garden. 
To-day flower growing is the only important occupation 
m the islands, and some 700 tons of flowers narcissi, 
laffodils, arum lilies, stocks, and anemones are exported 
:o the mainland. The temperate climate enables growers 
:o market their outdoor flowers at a time of the year when 

10 one else can compete except with hot-house plants. The 
ize of each business is very small, and the method of 
growing bears no comparison with the bulb-growing industry 
n Holland. Wherever there is shelter, natural or artificial, 
he land is cultivated for flowers, but without shelter the 
Atlantic gales would soon play havoc with any form of 
>roduction. Besides flower growing the islands provide a 
ew very early potatoes. Of other crops or of live stock 
arming there is virtually none. 

Chapter X 

The West of England Counties 




By C. V. DAWE 

University of Bristol 



The West of England Counties 

THE province comprises the five counties of Hereford, 
Worcester, Gloucester, Wilts, and Somerset. In the west its 
boundaries are Wales, the Bristol Channel with the mouth 
of the Severn, and in the south-west corner Devon. In the 
east it adjoins the West Midland and Southern Provinces. 
From north to south it stretches about 180 miles from 
Birmingham to the famous Porlock Hill, some few miles 
west of the seaside resort of Minehead, and onwards over 
Exmoor, where it adjoins the county of Devon in the 
South- Western Province. 

The total land area of the province is 3,675,000 acres, of 
which 2,822,000 acres are under crops and grass, and 
307,000 acres are classed as rough grazings in agricultural 
use, leaving 546,000 acres in non-agricultural use. 

The province carries 810,000 head of cattle, of which 
300,000 consist of cows in milk. In addition it has 
nearly ij million head of sheep and lambs, 400,000 
pigs of all ages, 92,000 horses, and approximately 6 million 

The total population of the province is 2,096,000, thus 
giving a density of 0-6 persons per acre. There is no vast 
industrial area within its borders, but the north-east corner 
of Worcestershire, with the towns of Dudley (59,579), 
Stourbridge (33,225), and Oldbury (35,918), comes within 
the environs of Birmingham and the Black Country, the 
former noted for light metallurgical industries, the latter 
for coal and iron mining and heavy engineering. The 
manufacture of glass and the mining of salt are carried on 
in the north-east corner. 

The largest urban centre wholly within the province is 
the City and Port of Bristol (379,000), noted as the centre 


of tobacco import and manufacture. It is also a centre of 
many light industries, and because of this great variety has 
weathered the post-war industrial depression fairly success- 
fully. With the residential city of Bath (68,800), the ancient 
Roman town only 12 miles away, this small area holds 
nearly one-quarter of the population of the whole province. 
It is incidentally within 120 miles of London, and com- 
munications are very good. Other important towns in the 
province are Hereford (24,000), Worcester (50,000), Kidder- 
minster (29,000), Bridgwater (17,000), Taunton (25,000), 
and Yeovil (19,000). 

Apart from Bristol, the corner of the Black Country, the 
small coalfields of the Forest of Dean (Glos.), and Radstock 
(Somerset), together with numerous small industries located 
in the larger towns, the whole of the province is mainly 
agricultural, and the farms produce for export outside the 
province. Formerly one of the largest markets for exports 
of perishable and semi-perishable products was in the South 
Wales iron- and coal-field, but the severe depression in 
that area since the War has brought about a number of 
changes in the agriculture which formerly found its market 

The physical features of the province are comparatively 
simple in outline. In the north-west the high land and 
valleys of Herefordshire border on the mountainous parts 
of Wales. These Hereford uplands belong geologically to 
the Old Red Sandstone formation. They slope down to the 
west into the valley of the Severn, which provides a wide 
stretch of plain in the counties of Worcester and Gloucester. 
Across the Severn Valley, which is Lias clay, the Cotswold 
hills, composed of the great and inferior Oolite, form a high 
ridge running in a north-easterly direction from Gloucester, 
though at a somewhat lower level they extend also south of 
Gloucester. The extreme north-east corner of the province 
also rises above 400 feet in a different formation from the 
Cotswolds, but this corner is dominated by the industrial 


area of Birmingham. Across the Cotswolds from the Severn 
Valley lie the upper Thames Valley and the upper reaches 
of the Gloucester Avon, resting for the greater part on 
Forest Marble and Bradford Clay. This is a valley of fine 
grassland. South of this rises the Chalk Downs, divided into 
two parts by the small Vale of Pewsey, into the Marlborough 
Downs to the north and the Salisbury Plain to the south. 
West of the chalk and just south of Bristol the small bunch 
of Mendip Hills, composed of mountain limestone, divide 
the Severn Valley country from the alluvial lands of central 
Somerset. This latter stretch of flat country runs almost to the 
southern border of the province and drains into the Bristol 
Channel in Bridgwater Bay. The most westerly corner of 
Somerset holds the steep hills of the Quantocks and Exmoor 
Forest, on the Old Red Sandstone formation. 

While some indication of the geological formations and 
soil types has been given above, it should be pointed out 
that few geological formations are absent from this 
province, and while formations do not as a rule give reliable 
indication as to soil, it may be said that the province 
exhibits a great variety of soil types. Indeed, it is claimed 
that within Somerset alone are to be found samples of all 
the soil types of England. 

Because of its geographical position and topography, the 
province has a moderately wet climate when compared with 
the remainder of England and Wales; it has a heavier 
rainfall than the midlands and the east, but on the other 
hand is drier than the north-west, the extreme south-west, 
and Wales. Over the greater part of the province there is a 
mean annual rainfall of between 30 and 40 inches, although 
the whole of Worcester and the greater (eastern) portion of 
Hereford have less than 30 inches. 

There are 41,582 holdings in the province, almost two- 
thirds of which are of not more than 50 acres, while only 
3 per cent of all the holdings exceed 300 acres. Some of 
these larger holdings exceed 2,000 acres in extent, and are 


chiefly to be found upon the Cotswold Hills, the Marlborough 
Downs, and Salisbury Plain. The total number of workers 
employed amounts to 67,869, of whom 6,335 are females. 
About one-sixth of the total workers are casuals, although 
obviously this proportion varies at different seasons and in 
different parts of the province. 

The chief activities are devoted to milk production. 
Approximately one-third of the total milk produced is 
manufactured into milk products, and the bulk of the 
remainder is exported to London. There are, however, one 
or two areas specializing in horticulture, as for example in 
the Vale of Evesham in south-east Worcester and in the 
south of Somerset. On account of its mild and moist climate 
and its general topography the province is ideally situated 
for grass production for dairy farming. More than three- 
fourths of the total farmland is under permanent grass. To 
this, however, must be added the clovers and rotational 
grasses, which, although strictly classified as arable land, 
form in fact a permanent source of grazing amounting to 
147,790 acres. Apart from this there remain only 50,000 
acres of arable land. Of this, one half is under cereals, and 
of the cereal acreage wheat occupies one half. 

The physical features already outlined permit of a division 
of the province into seven main regions. The farming within 
these regions is not of course uniform, and distinctive 
districts within each region will receive special mention, but 
in the main the province can be divided as follows : 

I. Hereford Uplands 

II. Severn Valley 

III. TheCotswolds 

IV. The Upper Thames and Avon Valley 
V. The Wiltshire Downs 

VI. Somerset (except the extreme west) 
VII. West Somerset (i.e. the Quantocks and Exmoor) 



This region, almost identical in boundaries with the county 
of Hereford, consists of uplands with valleys between. At 
its centre lies the cathedral and market town of Hereford. 
The soil is generally a mixture of marl with clay, over- 
lying Old Red Sandstone formation. In the east of the 
region are areas of stiff clay land interspersed with patches 
of sand. 

Three-quarters of the farm area is under permanent grass, 
and the chief activities of the farmers are devoted to the 
production of beef cattle and sheep, the county being the 
home of the famous Hereford beef breed. In the last ten 
years the numbers of cattle have increased by nearly 20 per 
cent. Dairy cattle are numerous in the region, but as there 
are no large urban markets within the county and the area 
is distant and generally inaccessible, milk production is of 
minor importance. In the past ten years the number of 
sheep has increased by 50 per cent. 

Although mainly a grass county, one-quarter of the farm 
area is under arable cultivation, fully half of which is 
devoted to stock-feeding crops. Wheat occupies only about 
one-sixth of the arable acreage. The area devoted to orchards 
is as great as the wheat acreage. Although the orchard 
acreage has shown little change during the past ten years, 
a great deal more attention is being paid to the orchards 
and a considerable amount of replacement of old by young 
trees is taking place. At various centres cider and perry 
are produced. In the east of the region there is a well-known 
hop-growing area of about 4,000 acres, which adjoins a 
similar though smaller area in Worcestershire. 

The region is one of very small farms. Out of approxi- 
mately 6,500 holdings in the county only two hundred are 
over 300 acres, while nearly one-half are not more than 
20 acres. Many of them are situated in the isolated and 
inaccessible places. 



This extensive tract of valley land or plain on either side 
of the River Severn divides the Uplands of Hereford from 
the Cotswold range. If one includes for the sake of con- 
venience the small area of uplands adjoining Birmingham, 
the Severn Valley may be said to extend the whole way 
from Bristol to Birmingham, a distance of 90 miles, almost 
due north. Besides these two cities this region contains the 
twin cities of Gloucester and Cheltenham, and further north 
the city of Worcester, and between that and Birmingham 
the town of Kidderminster. 

In the lower and narrower part of this valley, known as 
the Berkeley Vale, which lies between Bristol and Gloucester, 
cheesemaking has been carried on from time immemorial. 
The district is known as the home of the Gloucester cheese. 
This art has almost died out since improvements in road 
and rail transport have made the area more accessible to 
urban markets so that the milk can be sold liquid. It contains 
rich grazing lands and a certain amount of beef production 
is carried on in addition to the dairying. Generally speaking, 
the farms are small, largely a legacy of the old cheesemaking 
days. The total arable land has diminished considerably 
since the war, but sheep have increased. In the area 
immediately north of Bristol market gardening is prominent. 

For convenience reference must be made at this juncture 
to the adjoining yet distinct region known as the Forest of 
Dean. This is a coal-mining area in which the agriculture, 
mainly on account of the poor soil, is relatively backward. 
In the past this region was noted for the Ryeland breed of 

As one proceeds northwards of Gloucester City the Vale 
of the Severn widens until it becomes in effect a plain, 
covering the whole of the county of Worcester except for 
the small northerly upland area adjoining Birmingham. 
This county is usually regarded as the fruit area of the 


province. Of a total agricultural area of 368,000 acres it 
has 23,000 under orchards and 4,000 under other fruit. In 
the south-east is the well-known Vale of Evesham, mainly 
devoted to market gardening. 

In addition Worcester is noted, with Hereford, for the 
production of hops, the two counties together having 
5,600 acres under this crop. This figure is 500 acres less 
than ten years ago, but on account of the Hops Marketing 
Scheme the average will probably be stabilized at about 
the present figure. 

The grazing lands are of good quality, and both milk 
and beef production are carried on. Indeed, it is common 
for farmers in Worcestershire to run the dual-purpose type 
of cow, usually the Hereford-Shorthorn cross. Two-thirds 
of all the holdings are not greater than 20 acres. This 
predominance of small farms is due to at least three causes. 
In the first place the fruit-cum-dairy farm tends by its very 
nature to be small; secondly, the average size is brought 
down by the large numbers of small market gardens in the 
Evesham area; and thirdly, the vicinity of the midlands 
industrial area means that a considerable number of small 
holdings are bought for amenity purposes. 

Undoubtedly the most interesting area in Worcester is 
the intensive market gardening area of Evesham Vale. The 
average size of holding ranges from 3 to 5 acres, with rents 
varying up to 6 per acre. For various reasons the area is 
particularly suited to this intensive type of production, 
although there is a danger that the lack of capital on the 
part of the small holders may result in soil exhaustion. 
This district has of recent years been seriously affected by 
the depression in the coal-mining industry of South Wales, 
and by the fact that access to other urban markets has been 
hindered by the development of similar market garden 
areas in the immediate locality of such markets. A further 
cause of depression is the tendency of large-scale farmers 
to grow certain market garden crops on the "agricultural" 


rather than on the "horticultural 5 * method. The canning 
industry has made rapid strides in this area, more especially 
during the last five years, when it has been encouraged by 
the import duties. 


The Cotswold Hills are more in the nature of a plateau 
than a mere range of hills, and consist almost entirely of 
Oolitic limestone. The total area is about 300,000 acres, and 
at the widest part is about 30 miles across. It is sometimes 
known as the playground of England. In some ways this 
area is similar to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, which will be 
described later. It rises to its highest point by means of a 
sheer western escarpment out of the Gloucester (Berkeley) 
Vale until it attains a maximum of 1,070 feet near Chelten- 
ham. In the main the region consists of fairly level tracts of 
country lying between 600 and 700 feet above sea-level, 
with shallow valleys between. A thin soil known as "stone- 
brash* ' overlies the oolite. Because of the stony nature of 
the soil, ploughing must not be carried out either too often 
or too deep, and there is constant need for consolidation by 
means of rolling or treading. The soil is not very fertile 
naturally, but will repay careful manurial treatment. Rents 
vary from 1 to 2 per acre. 

In pre-war days, and especially before 1870, the Cotswolds 
were almost entirely devoted to the production of cereals 
and arable sheep; in fact they have given their name to 
the Cotswold breed. With the relative unprofitableness of 
corn and sheep production in the face of large imported 
supplies this region has rapidly turned to milk production, 
but one of the chief defects which has to be contended in 
the matter of live stock farming is that of water supply. In 
spite of its movement towards milk production it is still 
regarded, like similar parts of Wiltshire, as the arable part 
of the province. The effects of the Wheat Act are already 


seen in an increase of wheat acreage in these areas. Although 
wool production is not now nearly so prominent as it has 
been in the past, one may still see, in a number of the valleys 
in the Cotswolds, cloth mills, some in ruins and others still 
in operation. 

The farms of this region are, generally speaking, large. 
Quite a number of holdings both large and small are 
occupied for amenity purposes by people who have either 
retired from urban life or who are still actively engaged in 
the City of London. 

The Cotswolds play a useful part in the general live-stock 
farming of the province, for there is a fair amount of transfer 
of sheep and cattle at different seasons of the year between 
these hills and the lower-lying areas on both sides. The chief 
market town is Cirencester (the Roman Corinium), which 
stands at the junction of three Roman roads, Akerman 
Street, Fosseway, and Ermin Street. Approximately 2 miles 
south of the town is situated the Royal Agricultural College, 
founded in 1843. 


Between the Cotswolds and the Wiltshire Downs (described 
in the following section) lies a broad valley or plain through 
which run the upper reaches of the Rivers Thames and 
Avon. This is a very productive dairying region, almost 
entirely devoted to milk production for the London market. 
It is easily accessible, for the main railway line between 
Bristol and London runs through its whole length. Apart 
from London, this area has the important local markets of 
Bath, Chippenham, and Swindon. The average size of farm 
is not so large as in either of the adjoining regions of the 
Cotswolds and the Downs, but on the other hand they are 
more intensively worked and the output per acre is con- 
siderably higher. This region was one of the earliest to 
change over from cereals to milk production because of its 


natural advantages, and to-day the tendency is still towards 
a greater output of milk by more intensive management. 
Rents vary from 305. to 6os. per acre. Some of the farms on 
the borders of the Downs possess both types of land. The 
farms run down from the hills to the valleys, so that such 
farms produce milk on the more productive and lower-lying 
grass, with sheep and cereals on the hillsides. Beef production 
is not at all important. 

In the southern extremity of this vale area is a small 
"early" district known as the Bromham area. The possi- 
bilities of this district for the early production of vegetables, 
bush fruits, strawberries, and flowers are only now being 
realized, but it is considered that it will soon rival the 
well-known Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire. In this 
Bromham area the holdings are of only a few acres in 
extent, and a fair number of glass-houses are being erected. 
The chief market for the produce is the neighbouring city 
of Bath. 


The downlands of the province are found in Wiltshire, 
where they occupy about two-thirds of the county. The 
bulk of this region lies between 500 and 700 feet above 
sea-level. It is almost divided into two parts by the small 
but well-known dairying area known as the Vale of Pewsey, 
which runs eastwards from the town of Devizes and contains 
a considerable area of greensand with some gault clay. 

The northern half of the Downs, the Marlborough Downs, 
has always been associated with arable sheep farming, and 
the Marlborough Sheep Fair is still one of the most important 
fairs in the country. Since the end of the War this region 
has been rapidly turning towards milk production in order 
to avoid the depression in prices for cereals and sheep ; but 
as in the Cotswolds, the effect of the Wheat Act is beginning 
to check this movement towards milk, and incidentally to 


check the tendency to substitute the arable breeds of sheep, 
notably the Hampshire Down (pure or crossbred), for the 
grass breeds, usually the Dorset Horn (pure or crossbred). 

This statement also applies to the southern half of the 
Downs, more usually known as the Salisbury Plain. Broadly 
speaking, both areas consist of chalk covered by a medium 
or a light soil. Caird, in 1850, spoke of the soil being thin 
and dry, "well adapted for the system of folding sheep and 
hitherto kept in cultivation by a diligent prosecution of that 
system." This system has been followed right up to recent 
times, and consists of the trinity of sheep, turnips, and barley. 

Caird also pointed out that "The greater proportion of 
this extensive tract has been brought under tillage since the 
passing of the Act (1836) for the commutation of tithes. 
The fertility of most of it is artificial, the result of capital 
and labour skilfully applied, and as the country is not 
fenced, requires no draining, and the sheepfolding involves 
no expenditure in buildings, it appears that the increased 
produce derived from the land is almost wholly the result 
of the tenants' exertions. The commutation of tithes was, 
therefore, a great boon to the landlords, as their tenants 
then became desirous of ploughing up the downlands, and 
obtained permission to do so on the condition that they 
should pay an increased rent. In this way the downlands, 
not worth more in their natural state than 35. 6d. or 55. an 
acre, were at once raised to 155. or more, and that without 
any outlay on the part of the landlord. The land was held 
in very large farms by men of capital, whose chief depen- 
dence was on their sheep stock, and who, occupying wide 
tracts as sheep walks, became gradually very extensive 
tillage farmers, willing to pay an increased rent for the 
right of converting down into arable, so long as they were 
encouraged to do so by a high price of corn. This change 
of system involved a greatly increased outlay of capital, for 
it is obvious that a man with sufficient means to stock and 
carry on a sheepwalk of 2,000 acres would find that very 


inadequate for an arable farm of the same extent." Present- 
day rents vary from 55. per acre for land over which the 
army has the right of manoeuvre up to 155. per acre. The 
average Wiltshire down farm is large in extent, but whereas 
in the latter half of the nineteenth century such a farm 
would be mainly sheep, with some cereals and no milk, 
to-day such farms are often "mixed," in the sense that 
milk production, and sometimes pig production, is carried 
on in addition to sheep and cereals. In fact, taking the 
whole of the Wiltshire Downs, it would be true to say that 
milk production is to-day the chief activity. 

An innovation in management for milk production on a 
few of these downland farms is the "open-air bail" system. 
The essentials of this method are the milking of cows by 
machines installed in a four- or six-stall movable "bail" or 
shed open on one side. It is claimed that by this method a 
great reduction in labour costs can be effected, and there is 
no loss of manurial residues, since the herds never leave 
their pastures winter or summer. On some farms, where the 
soil and elevation are suitable, this system has proved highly 
successful, the herbage has been considerably improved, 
and subsequent cereal crops have benefited. The system is 
still in its infancy, having been introduced some ten years 
ago, so that opinions cannot be expressed too definitely. 

Before leaving the Wiltshire Downs reference must be 
made to the cathedral city of Salisbury (26,456), and within 
a few miles the site of the ancient city of Old Sarum, and 
the monolithic ruins of the druidical temple of Stonehenge. 
Incidentally it may be noted that near Marlborough is to 
be seen the monolithic circle of another druidical temple. 


"Smiling Somerset," as it is often called, has the reputation 
of being the most beautiful county in England. It possesses 
an equable climate and is very fertile. Excluding the western 


extremity, the greater part of the remainder consists of large 
tracts of alluvial land the Somerset Flats. 

In the south of the county the flat region merges into the 
Taunton Vale, in which are situated the Roman town of 
Ilchester and the county and market town of Taunton. In 
some parts of this vale the soil is of unknown depth, and 
generally speaking it is regarded as possessing some of the 
richest soil in the whole of England, with rents ranging 
from 2 to 4 per acre. In the past this area was devoted 
firstly to cereals and then to milk production, but it is 
now being partly utilized for market garden crops on a 
large scale, for it is capable of producing three crops in 
two years. 

Almost in the heart of Somerset County, to the north of 
the district just described, lies the well-known basket willow- 
growing area of approximately 1,500 acres the largest 
willow area in England. This area is also historically famous 
for legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round 
Table and possesses the village of Athelney, where King 
Alfred is believed to have burned the cakes! This willow 
area is very fertile, but is annually flooded owing to the 
fact that it is almost at sea-level and is nearly surrounded 
with low-lying "moors" which drain off into the willow 
area. The problem of draining this district has existed since 
1600, and in spite of numerous cuts, drains, and "rhines" 
the problem is still not completely solved. The chief difficulty 
is that in a run of 18 miles the fall to sea-level is only a few 
feet. Because of the annual flooding, willows are the only 
possible crop. In the days when pit ponies were used in 
the South Wales coal mines to a much greater extent than 
they are to-day this area produced a rough type of grass 
which was shipped to South Wales in the form of hay ; but 
this industry and the willow industry are dying out, and 
there is danger that the area may become derelict. 

Around and intermixed with this area are some fairly 
large patches of land, having less agricultural value than 


they should, due to the "scouring 55 in live stock which the 
grass causes. These areas comprise the "teart" lands, and 
up to the present no remedy has been found to prevent 
this scouring. Sheep are unaffected, but cattle will die if 
left on these grasslands ; on the other hand they will recover 
completely if removed early enough to good pastures. 

There are two more interesting districts lying between 
this area and Bristol. The first of these is the flat coastal 
area lying around the market town of Bridgwater. This 
district comprises the Bridgwater Flats, consisting of alluvial 
deposits. The bulk of this land lies practically at sea-level, 
and indeed is contiguous to the more inland willow area 
just described. These flats possess rich grazings, which in 
the past made them famous for beef production, the grass 
having such a high feeding value that bullocks can be 
fattened for market on them. This activity, however, has of 
recent years been largely supplanted by milk and cheese 
production, the whey being used to feed pigs for pork and 
bacon. The rents in this district may be put at %-% 
per acre. 

The second area lies just inland from the Bridgwater 
Flats and somewhat more to the north. Its northern part 
contains the range of the Mendip Hills composed of carboni- 
ferous limestone. These hills rise to a height of 1,000 feet 
and possess a considerable number of ancient lead mines, 
most of which are now disused and merely form a source 
of danger to the few sheep and cattle which may be found 
there. Agriculturally the land is of so little value that it 
rents at about 55. per acre. Although little to-day is heard 
of the Mendip breed of sheep, it was a very well-known 
type in the early part of the nineteenth century. Some milk 
production is maintained on these hills, but the general type 
of farming is poor, owing to the poor thin soil and the 
exposed position. Some coal is mined on the northern edge, 
especially around the small mining town of Radstock. 

Still keeping inland, but immediately south of the Mendips 


and to the east of the Bridgwater Flats, is the well-known 
cheesemaking area of Somerset, which gives its name to the 
famous Cheddar cheese. A part of this area is an "early" 
district for strawberries, which are exported to various 
places throughout England. The farms are nearly all of a 
small size, but very intensively worked. Another type of 
cheese made in this district is the Caerphilly, which is 
exported almost entirely to South Wales. Owing, however, 
to the depression in coal-mining the demand for this cheese 
is not so great as formerly. Some encouragement to the 
farm-house cheesemakers of Somerset has recently been 
given by the Milk Marketing Board, so that the tendency 
to abandon cheesemaking for milk production has been 
checked, and cheese prices have, by the action of the Board, 
become so much more attractive that the custom of farmers 
hiring cheesemakers for the season has again become firmly 


This extremity of Somerset is distinct from the rest, and 
indeed really forms part of the northern area of Devon. 
The bulk of the region lies between 1,000 and 1,200 feet 
above sea-level. Generally speaking, the farming is of the 
moorland type, and the chief activity is the raising of the 
Exmoor breed of sheep, either as a pure-bred type, but 
mostly as some kind of crossbred. Between the Quantock 
Hills and Exmoor itself is a valley in which some fine 
malting barley is produced. 

In many ways this district may be regarded as an isolated 
region, and it has always been connected with butter 
production. The average size of holding is large, like those 
of the Wilts Downs and the Cotswold Hills, but the region 
is not so productive as the Downs or the Cotswolds. The 
rearing of ponies for use in the coal mines of South Wales 
forms another activity, but owing to the replacement of pit 


ponies with mechanical haulage the demand is not as great 
as formerly. 

The geological formation is Old Red Sandstone, similar 
to that of Herefordshire. Store cattle are reared and exported 
to the "flats" for finishing as fat beef cattle. 

Chapter XI 

The West Midland Countie, 




Harper Adams Agricultural College, Salop 

0-400 ft 

County Boundaries -. - - - 
Regional Boundaries *++ 



The West Midland Counties 

THIS province comprises the three counties of Shropshire 
(Salop), Stafford, and Warwick. It adjoins on the north 
the province of Lancashire and Cheshire ; on the north-east 
and east the province of the East Midlands ; on the south 
the provinces of the South and South-west counties and of 
the West of England counties ; and on the west, Wales. 

The total land area of the province is 2,208,253 acres, of 
which 1,708,095 acres are "farmed" land (in crops and 
grass) and a further 92,282 acres are rough grazings used 
for agriculture, leaving just over 400,000 acres in non- 
agricultural use as urban and residential land, for recrea- 
tional use, or as waste land. 

The province provides a sharp contrast between dense 
industrial development in certain parts with markedly rural 
conditions in other parts. Within its boundaries are two of 
the notable industrial areas in the country: the Black 
Country, with Birmingham as its centre, in the south of 
Staffordshire and the north-west of Warwickshire, and the 
Potteries, round Stoke-on-Trent, in the north of Stafford- 
shire. The total population of the three counties is 3,210,000, 
an average density of 153 per 100 acres, but the variation 
between the counties shows Shropshire to have less than 
one-twelfth of the population on between one-third and 
one-half of the area. The density of population in Shropshire 
is only 28 per 100 acres as compared with 208 in Stafford- 
shire and 274 in Warwick. 

Of the total population of the province, 55 per cent live 
within the large industrial towns in the area around 
Birmingham, from Coventry to Wolverhampton. Birming- 
ham itself, with a population of over 1,000,000, houses nearly 
one-third. A further 10 per cent live in the two main towns 


of the Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. 
A large proportion of the remaining 35 per cent probably 
live within the radius of these industrial areas, though 
outside the boundaries of the large towns. The urban 
population outside of these areas is less than 10 per cent of 
the total, the chief towns being : in Staffordshire, Burton- 
on-Trent (49,000), Stafford (29,000), Cannock (35,000), 
Lichfield (9,000), and Tamworth (12,000); in Warwick- 
shire, Leamington Spa (30,000), Rugby (24,000), Warwick 
(13,000), and Stratford-on-Avon (12,000). The only town 
of any size in Shropshire is Shrewsbury (32,000). 

The province has therefore a large industrial market 
within its borders, a factor which cannot but influence much 
of the agriculture. All three counties have claims to historical 
interest, Warwickshire for Stratford-on-Avon and Shake- 
speare and the historical associations of Warwick itself. 
Shropshire, negligible for its industrial development, prob- 
ably takes first place in scenic interest and in its association 
particularly with the early history of Britain, when its 
western border held the strategic position between conquered 
England and the wild unconquered Wales. 

The physical features of the province are extremely varied. 
In the north-east corner bleak hill country rising in parts 
above 1,200 feet on the millstone grit provide the same 
kind of features as are to be found in North-West Derbyshire, 
East Lancashire, and West Yorkshire. The lower hills of 
this north-east corner of Stafford are in the industrial region 
of the Potteries. Another region of high hill country is found 
in the diagonally opposite corner of the province in the 
south-west of Shropshire. The hills of this region have the 
character found in Hereford and in the Welsh mountain 
region, and belong to the older geological formation of the 
Silurian, with parts on the Old Red Sandstone. The two 
regions of the north-east and the south-west are the only 
real hilly parts of the province, but one or two outcrops, 
usually associated geologically with the coal measures, rise 


to an altitude of over 400 feet. The largest and most 
important of these is around Birmingham on the south 
border of Staffordshire and the north-west corner of 
Warwickshire. This region stretches up into the middle of 
Staffordshire and covers the northern part of Warwickshire, 
broken by the valley of the upper branches of the Tame. 

The main lowland area of the province forms an almost 
unbroken stretch across all North Shropshire and Mid 
Stafford, comprising in the west the broad valley of the 
Severn and in the east the narrower valley of the Trent. 
The other main lowland area lies in the south and south-east 
of Warwickshire. The main geological formations of the 
lowland are Keuper Marl, Bunter Sandstone and Lias, with 
occasional parts of Red Sandstone. 

The rainfall of most of the province is low for an area 
situated in the western half of England. The average annual 
precipitation is between 25 and 30 inches, with higher 
averages in the hilly parts. 

If we exclude the hill country in North-east Staffordshire 
and South-west Shropshire and the land in the vicinity of 
the industrial towns, the agriculture of the rest of the 
province presents no very marked contrasts. In the north- 
west permanent grass predominates, with dairying as the 
main if not the sole enterprise. On a broad stretch on the 
borders of Shropshire and Staffordshire there is a large 
proportion of arable land, but dairying is for the most part 
now the main enterprise. In the south of Warwick permanent 
grass again predominates, and fattening cattle on summer 
grazing was the traditional system on the better pastures, 
but again milk now takes precedence. 

The emphasis on milk is the most significant feature of 
the farming over the large part of the province, a fact 
which is amply brought out by the official statistics for the 
three counties. The dairy stock in Staffordshire number 
217 per 1,000 acres, in Shropshire 157 per 1,000 acres, and 
in Warwickshire 118 per 1,000 acres. Breeding and rearing 


of stores and young dairy stock together with sheep figure 
largely in the farming of the hill parts. Poultry and pigs 
are common throughout the province, but poultry is more 
important round the industrial areas. 

The sale crops are of much less importance than live stock 
and live-stock products. Wheat and sugar beet are the 
principal sale crops from the mixed arable farming in the 
middle portion of the province. Potatoes on a large com- 
mercial scale are unimportant, except in one prominent 
area in the east of Staffordshire. Market gardening is found 
round the industrial belt, but fruit growing is confined to a 
small area in the south where the Worcestershire fruit area 
overlaps somewhat into this province. 

The system of tenure is mainly that of landlord and 
tenant, though the province shared in the post-war increase 
in the number of owner-occupiers. Farms vary considerably 
in size. The proportion of farms over 300 acres in Shropshire 
is 3 per cent of the total, and farms under 50 acres are 
67 per cent of the total, these proportions being almost 
identical with the country as a whole. In Staffordshire, with 
less than 2 per cent of the farms over 300 acres and 67 per 
cent under 50 acres, there is a higher proportion of the 
medium-sized farm than in the country generally, while 
Warwickshire with 4 per cent of the farms over 300 acres 
and only 58 per cent under 50 acres tends towards rather 
larger farms. The areas mostly devoted to small farms are 
to be found in the hill regions and in the industrial belts, 
and to large farms in grassland and mixed arable areas. 

The employment of wage-paid labour is common through- 
out the province, but the number employed in proportion 
to the cultivated area is lower than the average for the 
country as a whole. Regular male workers of all ages number 

1 6 per 1,000 acres in Shropshire, 19 in Staffordshire, and 

17 in Warwickshire, as compared with 21 for England and 
Wales generally. The regular employment of women in 
Shropshire and Stafford is about 2 per 1,000 acres, and in 


Warwickshire is less than i per 1,000 acres. The employ- 
ment of casual labour is not high, and in certain parts a 
supply is easily obtainable from the adjacent industrial 
districts. Except, however, in the mixed arable farming 
where sugar beet is grown, the system of farming does 
not make great demands on casual labour. 

For the purpose of more detailed description of the 
farming the province can be roughly divided into six 
regions. The boundary lines marked on the map cannot be 
taken as a clear line of demarcation between one type of 
farming and another, nor can it be assumed, needless to 
say, that the farming within each region is uniformly of 
one main type. 

The regions are as follows : 

I. North-west Shropshire 
II. South-west Shropshire 

III. East Shropshire, Mid-Staffordshire, and North Warwick- 


IV. North-east Staffordshire 
V. The Black Country 

VI. South Warwickshire 


North-west Shropshire is a continuation of the Cheshire 
plain lying to the north, and the predominant feature in it 
is dairy farming. The land is mainly of a heavy type, floored 
chiefly by Keuper marls or rocks of the lias age, and most 
of it in permanent grass. There is little arable farming, but 
where it does occur wheat and sugar beet are the sale crops. 
The farms vary considerably in size, but most are fairly 
large and employ hired labour, though not many exceed 
250 acres. This North-west Shropshire region was formerly 
almost as well known for its farm cheesemaking as the 
neighbouring and similar area of Cheshire, but in recent 
years there has been a steady decline in cheesemaking, and 
the bulk of the milk produced is now sold wholesale for 


shipment to Manchester and the Potteries, and farm cheese- 
making is now only a minor interest. There is very little 
milk sold retail by the farmers except around the small 
towns and villages. 

The common breed of cow is the Shorthorn, but Friesians, 
Friesian-Shorthorn crosses, Ayrshires, Red Polls, and 
Guernseys are also found. Generally speaking, the calves 
are not reared but sold at from a week to ten days old, 
and the herds replenished by buying in heifers from the 
breeding areas near at hand, including a fair number from 
Wales. Irish Shorthorn heifers are also bought in. There 
are cases, however, where the farmers rear their own heifers. 

There is a fair number of pigs in the region, most of them 
Large Whites, Middle Whites, and their crosses. All are 
used for bacon production. Most of the breeding is done 
by small holders. Since the decrease in farm cheesemaking 
and the consequent falling off in the amount of whey 
available for pig feeding, the feeding practices have changed 
over to ordinary mash and dry feeding. Sheep are not 
numerous in the region, and all are of the grass type, most 
of them Cluns and Shropshires and crosses of these and 
other breeds. Poultry keeping for egg production is fairly 
widespread throughout the region, but there are few 
specialist poultry farms. 


This region, extending from the Severn valley to the south 
and west borders of the county, contains a high proportion 
of high land. Practically all of it lies above the 40O-foot 
contour, and there are areas over 800 feet and a few patches 
over 1,200 feet. For the tourist it is an attractive area, 
being rich in both beauty and historical interest. 

Agriculturally, as one might expect from its altitude, the 
region is almost entirely grassland devoted to the raising of 
store stock, mainly sheep but also cattle. The hills are open 


and run in common in some areas, while in others they 
are enclosed and form parts of individual farms. Large 
numbers of sheep are raised on the hills themselves. They 
are almost exclusively of the Kerry Hill and Clun Forest 
breeds, the latter predominating. The sheep are drafted in 
the autumn and sent to the special store sales which are 
held in August and September at Craven Arms, Church 
Stretton, and other smaller centres. Wether tegs are sold 
for fattening on the lower land. Large numbers of two- and 
four-toothed ewes are sold to various parts of the midlands 
for mating with a Down ram for the production of fat 
lambs. There they are usually kept for a couple of seasons 
and then sold fat with their lambs in the second year. 

The cattle in this region are Herefords, Shorthorns, and 
Hereford-Shorthorn crosses. In many cases the cows are 
not milked at all, but kept merely to produce and rear a 
calf annually. Calving is generally in March, April, and 
May. Some of the calves are forced on and sold as baby 
beef when nine to twelve months old, but the majority are 
kept over winter and sold as stores in the spring. Some are 
kept until eighteen to twenty-four months old before being 
sold as stores. 

Dairying is not a feature of this region, though a few 
dairy herds, mainly Friesians, do occur in the valleys, and 
there is of course some milk production round the small 
towns. Poultry are widely distributed, but neither numerous 
nor important in any area except round Church Stretton 
and Craven Arms. Pigs are also unimportant in this region. 
Of arable cultivation there is practically none, except in 
the valleys where mixed farming is practised. 


East Shropshire and the whole of Staffordshire, except the 
high land in the north and the Black Country round 


Birmingham, and the northern part of Warwickshire, can 
be taken as one region. Geologically it is varied but 
mainly floored by Keuper marl, and agriculturally it 
is also varied. The region as a whole, however, may be 
classed as one of mixed husbandry partly arable, partly 
dairying, partly stock fattening with numerous minor local 

Dairying is the most general and most important enter- 
prise, especially where the region adjoins the industrial 
belts and particularly in the vicinity of the Potteries in the 
north and the Black Country in the south, which consume 
the bulk of the produce from this region. 

The arable farms are mainly large and are dependent on 
hired labour, a feature that is prone to give rise to difficulties 
owing to the demand for labour from the neighbouring 
industrial centres and the higher wages paid in industry. 
The grassland farms, on the other hand, are generally small 
and of the family farm type. The land is usually good, and 
where cultivated is well cultivated. Though it is a mixed 
area, grassland predominates, the ratio of permanent grass 
to arable acreage (including rotational grass) being about 
3:1. The arable land is worked on the four-course system 
with variations, and the main sale crop is wheat. There is 
an increasing tendency throughout the region to displace 
root crops by vegetables for human consumption, especially 
in the vicinity of consuming centres. 

In East Shropshire and round Newport especially, and 
along the Salop-Staffordshire border, the land is lighter 
than in the region as a whole and more barley is grown 
than is general throughout the region. In the immediate 
vicinity of Newport there is a special carrot and parsnip 
area, most of the produce being sent to the Black Country. 
Southwards and along the Severn Valley sugar beet is an 
important sale crop. There is a beet-sugar factory at Allscott 
(Salop), and another just over the border at Kidderminster 
in Worcestershire. Barley usually follows sugar beet in the 


rotation. The south-east corner of Shropshire and the 
extreme south-west of Staffordshire form one of the few 
areas in the region where arable farming is more important 
than dairying. Wheat, sugar beet, and potatoes are the sale 
crops. This area has also some fruit growing (cherry orchards 
largely) and vegetable production, and also a few hop 

Going eastwards into Staffordshire there is more arable 
in the Trent Valley than is general in the region, but milk 
is still the main interest, though cattle feeding occupies an 
important place. The rotation is the four-course, and wheat 
in many cases is the only sale crop. There are quite a number 
of farms, however, which grow potatoes on a commercial 
scale. Further south, in the Tamworth and Lichfield areas, 
more potatoes are grown and market gardening is practised 
on a large scale. There are some potato specialists, and 
market garden crops are grown both by specialists and on 
ordinary farms. Dairying is less important in this area, and 
pigs more important than elsewhere. The area known as 
Cannock Chase is useless agriculturally and is under the 
supervision of the Forestry Commission and the Preservation 
Trust. On the fringes of the Chase are small holders, quite 
a number of them part-time miners, each with a few cows. 
In the north of Warwickshire and that part of Staffordshire 
bordering on it there is again a higher proportion of arable 
cultivation, and potato growing is practised on a fairly 
large scale. 

Among the live stock products beef cattle used to be the 
main product in the arable areas, and this still provides a 
fair proportion of the income. Dairying is everywhere 
encroaching, however, especially round the fringes. In some 
parts, as for instance just east of Stafford, yard fattening of 
cattle is tending to return, but this movement is neither 
pronounced nor widespread. All the beef cattle are either 
Herefords or Hereford crosses, and both summer and winter 
fattening is practised. The acreage of first-class fattening 


pasture is limited, only occurring in a few isolated areas, 
and few fat cattle are finished on the grass alone. Two 
methods of producing summer beef are used. One entails 
buying in the stores in winter or early spring, feeding them 
in yards practically on a winter system of feeding, and 
turning out to grass during May, June, or the beginning of 
July. The other is to buy in fairly forward stores in April 
and put them on to the early grass ; some are finished on 
grass alone, but the majority require a certain amount of 
concentrates to fatten them off in August and September. 
The winter fattening of cattle is done in yards. Very little 
breeding is done in this region, the stores being imported 
from the neighbouring breeding and rearing areas and from 
Wales and Ireland. 

Formerly large numbers of tegs were fattened on roots in 
this region, especially on the lighter land, but for economic 
reasons this practice has been on the wane in recent years. 
In the sugar beet areas the sheep are often fed off on beet 
tops. The breeds of the region are Cheviots, Half breds, and 
various crosses. Flying flocks are kept in some areas, for 
example, east of Stafford. 

The dairying is almost entirely for the production of milk 
for liquid sale, the region being well placed for this purpose 
since large markets exist both in the south the Black 
Country and in the north the Potteries. Round the towns 
within the region itself retailing by the producers is fairly 
common, especially by small holders. There is a little 
farm cheesemaking in the neighbourhood of Market 
Drayton. The cows are mostly Shorthorns and Shorthorn 

Pigs are not found in great numbers. Poultry are wide- 
spread and are increasing in importance, especially in the 
strip of country between Newport and Whitchurch. As 
elsewhere, there is a distinct tendency to regard the poultry 
enterprise as a definite part of the farming. 



The north-east corner of Staffordshire is a region lying above 
the 400-foot contour, with patches over 800 feet and one 
stretch over 1,200 feet. The land is about 95 per cent under 
grass, and the farming akin to that in North-west Derby- 
shire, having sheep on the highest levels and dairying below 
with store cattle and sheep raising in between. The sheep 
are of the Gritstone breed or Gritstone-Mashum crosses, 
and the cattle mainly Herefords, Shorthorns, and Hereford- 
Shorthorn crosses. Young cattle are produced both for the 
cattle feeders and for the dairymen in the lower levels. 
Leek is the largest store stock market. 

Lower down roughly between the 400- and 8oo-foot 
contours the farming consists of grassland dairying and 
practically nothing else, but merges at the fringes of course 
into the mixed dairy farming of Region m. The farms are 
mostly small, using family labour assisted sometimes by a 
lad living in. There is a high proportion of producer-retailers 
in this area, but most of the milk produced is sold wholesale. 

Neither poultry nor pigs occupy an important place in 
North-east Staffordshire, and being a grassland region there 
is of course no crop selling, except near the large centres 
of population, such as Stoke-on-Trent, where market garden 
crops are grown. 


In this populous industrial belt round Birmingham there is 
very little general farming, but, as in other industrial areas, 
cash crops are made to grow on land which would in many 
cases be left as unfit for cultivation were it not for the large 
market offered by the industrial population in the immediate 
vicinity. The farmers (if they can be called such) live by 
retailing milk and eggs, potatoes and vegetables, and any 
other products which they are able to make their poor soils 


produce and which the smoke pollution will permit to grow. 
In many cases the "farmers" are part-time industrial 
workers, and the "farms" may be little more than fairly 
large allotments. On the fringes of the industrial belt proper 
the farming is mixed arable and dairying, milk, potatoes, 
and vegetables being the sale products. The cropping is 
arranged so as to give a maximum production of cash crops 
and at the same time provide fodder for the dairy herds. 
As one would expect, the farmers replenish their herds by 
buying in heifers from other regions. The commonest breed 
is the Shorthorn. 


South Warwickshire may be classed as a grassland region 
of medium sized holdings whose main sale product is 
now milk. The county is largely under permanent 
grass, but has some arable farming, and dairying is 
the main live-stock enterprise; stock fattening and some 
store raising are also common. The northern part of the 
county has already been mentioned as part of Region m, 
with more arable and more potato growing than is general 
throughout that region. 

On the Coal Measures, which stretch in a north-westward 
direction from just east of Coventry and extend into 
Staffordshire, the farming is only secondary to mining and 
is very much influenced by it. The soils are generally poor 
and acid, and the smoke pollution makes them worse. 
Potatoes and oats are the crops which can be grown most 
successfully, but in some parts of the area the crop range 
has been extended by liming to include sugar beet, barley, 
cabbage, broccoli, and vetches. The main feature of the 
farming, however, is dairying, with the cropping holding 
only a minor place and being mainly for the purpose of 
maintaining the dairy herds. Apart from local sales to the 
mining villages largely by producer-retailers, the milk is 


sent to Birmingham and Coventry. There is little rearing 
in the area. Potatoes and such market garden crops as are 
grown are largely consumed in the mining villages. 

Running down the eastern side of the county, and 
extending into Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, is a strip 
of heavy land (lias clay), which is cold and late and largely 
under permanent grass used for grazing older classes of 
stock. Up to a few years ago it was a bullock-fattening area, 
well-finished Herefords, Shorthorns, and Hereford-Short- 
horn crosses being produced, but recently there has been a 
very definite tendency for the area to go over to milk 
production, and now it is devoted more to dairying than 
to cattle fattening. 

Most of the rest of this region, covering more than half 
the county, is under Keuper marl, which gives a heavy and 
sticky but fertile soil. In parts it is overlaid by drift deposits, 
but agriculturally it is one area, and mainly under grass 
and devoted to the production of liquid milk for the 
Birmingham and Coventry markets. There is a certain 
amount of arable farming conducted on a four- or five-course 
rotation, with wheat and potatoes as the main sale crops, 
and also some cattle feeding and a certain amount of stock 
raising. In some areas all the bull calves are sold for veal 
and only the heifer calves reared. The most popular dairy 
breed is the Shorthorn, but herds of Friesians and Ayrshires 
are also found. The beef cattle are mainly Shorthorns, 
Herefords, Shorthorn-Hereford crosses, Irish, Welsh, and 
some Devons. 

Sheep do not form a feature in this area, or anywhere 
else in Warwickshire, but flying flocks are kept in some 
parts. Nearly every cross of note is to be found, but Suffolk, 
Ryeland, and Oxford tups are most commonly used. Pigs 
occupy only a very minor place, and so also poultry, though 
as elsewhere the importance of poultry is on the up-grade, 
especially near the large consuming centres. 

Another area in this region deserving special mention is 


the Avon valley, where there is a narrow stretch of rich 
alluvial land on which the farming is very mixed. Milk, 
wheat, and sugar beet are the main farm products sold. 
Especially in the neighbourhood of Stratford-on-Avon, the 
farming is largely influenced by the demand from the large 
number of tourists for milk, meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. 
Dairying is carried on, all kinds of market crops are grown, 
and fruit growing is conducted on a commercial scale. In 
some respects the area is very similar to the Vale of Evesham 
further down the valley of the Avon. The most intensive 
cultivation is around Stratford, Bedford, and Alcester, plums 
being the main fruit crop. Inter-cropping with breaks of 
vegetables and soft fruits (raspberries, currants, gooseberries, 
strawberries) is a common practice, and the market gar- 
dening is tending to creep further up the valley. Around 
Kenilworth, Warwick, and Leamington there is a fair 
acreage of glass-house crops, tomatoes, cucumbers, and 
flowers being grown on a large scale. 

Chapter XII 

Wales and Monmouth 


University of Wales 


0-400 ft 

County Boundaries ** 
Regional 8oundories+++ 




Wales and Monmouth 

THE physical and climatic features of Wales are markedly 
different from those of the greater part of Britain. Wales is 
an upland country with over one-quarter of its land area 
at more than 1,000 feet above sea-level; its centre is an 
almost solid block of upland traversed by a few compara- 
tively narrow valleys, and its most fertile land is along the 
seaboard and in low-lying valleys and plains towards the 
English border. The westerly winds meeting the formidable 
mountains cause a variable but fairly high rainfall with a 
range of 70 inches or more in the higher regions to under 
30 inches per annum in the lower regions. Temperatures 
are highest along the seaboard. The highland and some of 
the less sheltered valleys have a comparatively low annual 
temperature, and suffer particularly from a late spring 
growing season. The warm winds which travel northwards 
over Britain in late April and early May are deflected 
eastwards and westwards by the central hills,* and thus 
midland Wales gets less of the benefits of these winds than 
the coastal regions. Rain is sufficiently well distributed 
throughout the year for the growth of all crops, and it is 
only in years of comparative drought that any shortage of 
water is experienced. But sunshine and heat are not so well 
distributed and this, largely combined with the high rain- 
fall, gives Welsh farming its distinctive pastoral character. 
The upper limit of cultivation varies in different regions, 
but in Mid Wales it is reached at about 1,200 feet above 
sea-level. Virgin pasture, heath, moorland, and rocky land 
with little vegetation used for rough grazing lie above this 


The disposition of the mountainous regions has important 
effects on the economic, social, and political life of the 
population. Communications are good from west to east, 
but relatively poor from north to south. Recent develop- 
ments in road and aerial transport are making slight 
improvements, but the journey by rail from North to South 
Wales takes longer than a journey from North or South 
Wales to London. Both the southern and northern sections 
transact all their business intercourse across the border with 
England. But racial, social, religious, and linguistic similar- 
ities have kept the Welsh people distinct and they and their 
institutions have never been wholly merged into the national 
characteristics of the English. 

Wales in general, and South Wales in particular, is 
better known for its coal and metallurgical industries than 
for its farming. Until the end of the eighteenth century its 
population had been sparse, and except for small areas in 
the north and south it had never been highly cultivated. 
The nature of its farming has been largely determined by 
the subsequent growth of population and towns, and by 
the geographical characteristics of the country. Nearly one- 
half of the present population of Wales is located in Glamor- 
gan, and much more than half in Glamorgan and Mon- 
mouth, which contain the major part of the South Wales 
coalfield. There are coal mining, quarrying, and other 
industrial developments in North Wales, but these have led 
to a comparatively small concentration of population and 
growth of towns. 

Wales is also rich in beautiful inland and coastal scenery, 
and in summer there is a large floating population at the 
health resorts, mostly on the coast but scattered in other 
areas. The resident population of the industrial areas and 
the floating population of the resorts make the important 
consumers' markets for food supplies and Welsh farming is 
mainly, but not wholly, devoted to production to meet 
this domestic demand. 


In the whole of Wales and Monmouth about 12*5 per 
cent of the population may be described as rural, and 
87-5 per cent as urban. Excluding the two highly indus- 
trialized counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, the pro- 
portions are approximately 30 per cent rural and 70 per 
cent urban. These figures compare with about 20 per cent 
rural and 80 per cent urban for the whole of England 
and Wales. The number of persons engaged in agriculture 
represents about 10 per cent of the total occupied persons, 
but the proportion varies from 42 per cent in Montgomery 
to 2 per cent in Glamorgan. 

Soils are shallow on the hills and slopes, and compara- 
tively deep in the valleys. There are small areas of rich soils, 
but generally soils are of medium to low quality. While 
there are small areas of light sand, soils usually range from 
loamy to heavy. Speaking generally, the soils are charac- 
terized by fairly high content of nitrogen and potash and 
comparative poverty in calcium carbonate, while their 
phosphate content also is low. The decomposition of the 
organic matter is of course the main natural source of 
nitrogen to the soil. High nitrogen content arises from 
richness in organic matter resulting from humid climate 
favouring vegetative growth. The absence of calcium car- 
bonate hinders the decomposition of this organic matter 
by bacteria with the result that this tends to accumulate 
and to cause deterioration of pastures in some regions. 

Richness in potash is due to the type of rock from which 
the mineral portion of the soil has been formed. Paucity 
of calcium carbonate results from the fact that limestone 
scarcely occurs in the rocks from which the mineral portion 
of large areas of soils in Wales has been formed, but the 
high rainfall and humid climate tend to leach out calcium 
carbonate from the soil. The phosphoric acid content of 
soils is comparatively low and phosphates are the most 
extensively used of all artificial fertilisers. 

The slopes, altitudes, soils, and rainfall all contribute to 


making Wales a pastoral country. About one-third of the 
total land area of the country is classed as rough grazings, 
and only about 55 per cent of the land area is "farmed," 
that is, in crops and improved grass. The remaining 12 per 
cent of the area is in non-agricultural uses or waste. 

The rough grazings vary in quality from those which 
will carry one sheep per acre to those which carry only 
one sheep to seven acres, and from those which are in use 
through most of the year to those pastured only for four 
or five months in the year. 

Of the land classed as under crops and grass, about 
23 per cent is under arable cultivation, but except for a 
few small areas mainly in the south and north, and relatively 
near the sea, there is practically no permanent arable land. 
The grass is broken up from time to time, and with a year 
or two's cropping is sown down again to grass for a period 
of years. Indeed there are many districts where ploughing 
and cropping at intervals are essential to the maintenance 
of good pastures. 

The productivity of farming in Wales is highly dependent 
on the productivity of pastures. Maintenance of fertility 
of grasslands has long been recognized as one of the most 
important elements of good husbandry, and there is much 
valuable traditional knowledge and recent experience of 
methods of improvement by rotational cultivation and 
re-seeding. Many farmers are now keenly interested in the 
development of methods of renovation without a period of 
arable cropping, but the special feature of the new methods 
is their application to land often previously regarded as 

Arable crops, therefore, do not figure largely in the 
farmers' income. Only very small amounts are grown for 
sale, and probably the net sales of crops do not exceed 
5 per cent of the total farm sales. The crops are used mainly 
for the feeding of live stock and to some extent for home 


Oats are by far the most important cereal crop and their 
production is widespread. Wheat, barley, and mixed corn 
together take up less than half the acreage of oats, and their 
distribution is relatively localized. Almost all these crops 
are grown for feeding live stock, and the amounts sold for 
other purposes are negligible. A certain amount of oats are 
specially bred and grown for seed to suit conditions in the 
uplands of Wales. The main root crops are turnips and 
swedes, which cover an acreage almost as great as all other 
root crops taken together. The mangold acreage is small, 
but the crop is still in popular use for spring feeding. 
Cabbage for fodder, kohl-rabi, and rape are grown to an 
increasing extent to supplement or replace turnips and 
swedes for winter feeding, but the acreage is less than half 
that of turnips and swedes. Vetches and tares are grown 
on a small acreage as forage crops to supplement shortage 
of spring and early summer grazing. 

The only root crop grown extensively for sale is potatoes. 
They are almost universally grown and small plots will be 
seen on farms at the high altitudes at which homesteads are 
established. They are grown mainly for consumption on 
farms and in villages or small towns ; very little organized 
trade with the large towns exists. South Wales has to draw 
heavy supplies from England, while North Wales draws 
supplies from Ireland. Recently, a scheme for controlled 
production and marketing of seed potatoes free from 
virus diseases has been in operation in North Wales, 
and it is proposed to extend its operation further. 
Efforts are also being made to use the opportunities 
provided by some coastal areas for the growing of early 

Production of the special crops like small fruit, orchard 
fruit, and vegetables for human consumption is low, and 
is confined to a few areas. The main concentration is on 
parts of the Welsh borders and round populous centres. 
Acreages of vegetables, however, other than potatoes are 


increasing. Glasshouse production has recently undergone 
considerable development. 

The essential and almost universal aim of Welsh farming 
is production of live stock and live stock products. The 
live stock industries have undergone and are still showing 
considerable changes. In the case of sheep, the change in 
the public demand following 1919 in favour of the smaller 
breeds of sheep, gave a popularity to the native breeds of 
Wales both for fattening and breeding. There has also been 
a big movement to much earlier slaughter. In the cattle 
industry, the change has been in the direction of a big 
increase in dairying and particularly towards the sale of 
milk. In the case of beef cattle, there has been a reduction 
in the age at which the cattle have been sold as stores. 
The pig industry shows little change, but poultry have 
increased on parts of the eastern border, particularly in 
Flint and Monmouth, and in parts of South Wales. 

In the days before horse-transport was so much displaced 
by petrol, Wales produced many types of horses; heavy 
Shires in the Severn Valley, small and medium weight 
animals of the "heavy horse" type in many areas, "colliers" 
in South Wales, cobs and riding horses in many areas, and 
ponies in most of the mountain regions. The reduction in 
the market has caused a decrease of supplies of all types, 
but owing to the nature of the country, with its scattered 
and isolated farmsteads in hill and mountain regions, and 
the general unsuitability for motor traction, horses will 
always hold their own on farms in Wales. Breeding of 
horses for agricultural and rural purposes will still be 
necessary and there are recent indications of increased 
breeding both for replenishment of farm stocks and to meet 
the improved demand in the markets. Sales of horses during 
the past ten years have been about 3 to 4 per cent of total 
farm sales. 

Sales of cattle on Welsh farms represent from 25 to 30 per 
cent of the total farm sales, while milk and dairy products 


represent another 20 per cent, bringing total cattle and 
cattle products sales up to about half the total farm sales. 
In the past decade there has been a general increase in all 
classes of cattle, more so in the case of dairy stock. Welsh 
Black cattle are the national breed, but to-day several 
others are used. Cows of the Shorthorn type are common 
in the milk producing districts, though Friesians and Ayr- 
shires are being fairly widely introduced and other breeds 
are used to a small extent. In the districts which raise 
cattle for the beef industry, Herefords or Hereford-crosses 
are common, although the Welsh Black breed is still popular 
on the poorer and more exposed areas. The Aberdeen-Angus 
is also used to a small extent. The majority of cattle offered 
for sale are of the Shorthorn or Hereford type or crosses. 
Production of cattle and cattle products is practically 
universal on the farms of Wales. 

Sheep are common to all Welsh farms and sales of sheep 
and wool represent 20-22 per cent of total farm sales, but 
the permanent flock is not so universally found as the 
permanent herd of cattle. The types of flock husbandry 
vary from the use of a flying-flock on cow pasture, or the 
short period fattening of lambs in autumn and early winter, 
to the purchase of ewes and the rearing of fat lambs, or the 
maintenance of a permanent ewe flock for fat lamb pro- 
duction, and to the maintenance of breeding flocks on the 
hills and mountains. Numbers have been increasing and 
the proportion of breeding stock has risen. There has been 
a substantial decline in the proportion of sheep over one 
year old, and a proportional increase in sheep under one 
year, a change due to the policy of selling younger stock. 
This tendency to change has not yet reached finality, but 
the rate of change is not so rapid now as it has been in the 

There are two famous national breeds of sheep, the Welsh 
Mountain and the Kerry Hill (Wales), both, but particu- 
larly the first, well suited to production of high-quality 


mutton and lamb. While Welsh Mountain and Kerry Hill 
outnumber all other breeds, many other breeds are used, 
particularly for crossing for the production of early lambs. 

Pigs are not a prominent feature of Welsh farming and 
represent some 10 per cent of total farm sales, but there is 
considerable variation from one area to another. There are 
indications of increasing numbers. In the more isolated and 
especially the high-lying areas, pigs are kept mainly for 
home consumption, though young pigs are sold in fairly 
large numbers from some districts to the lowlands for 
fattening. The South Wales counties have limited pig 
production largely to porkers of 80-100 Ibs. deadweight. 
Cardiganshire and some of the North Wales counties have 
produced fairly large numbers of "cutters" (heavy porkers) 
and baconers of fairly heavy type but of good quality. The 
native Welsh pig is one of the white lop-eared varieties. It 
is hardy, economical, and prolific, and makes a good bacon 
type. But the numbers of the breed have declined some- 
what, although the Welsh and the Large White are still the 
most common types and are frequently used for crossing. 

The number of poultry per 100 acres of farmland is not 
as high as in England, but there has been a considerable 
increase in the last decade mainly, but not entirely, in 
fowls. Expansion of the industry has been mainly for egg 
production, but there is some increase in table fowls. 
The trade in table ducks is largely seasonal and geese 
largely, and turkeys almost wholly, are concentrated on 
the Christinas market. 

The total number of farm holdings in Wales according 
to the official agricultural statistics is over 60,000. On 
the other hand, the decennial census returns only some 
40,000 farmers and graziers. The discrepancy is in part 
due to two or more holdings being in occupation of one 
man, but it is probable that the main part of the difference 
is due to the prevalence of part-time farming among the 
smallest farms, where in the census the occupiers are 


returned as being engaged in some other trade publicans, 
jhop-keepers, hauliers, miners, and quarrymen. 

The average size of holdings runs to about 46 acres, 
excluding rough grazings. Less than a half of i per cent 
of the farms are over 300 acres and less than 33 per cent are 
over 50 acres. Typical farm business, as distinct from the 
acreage, is also small. There are few farmers having more 
than 5,000 capital in live stock, equipment, cultivations, 
and tenant-right, and the common variation would be 
between 300 and 3,000. According to the last available 
official figures published for 1922, about 15 per cent of the 
occupiers own their holdings or have an equity interest in 
them as proprietors. 

The majority of the occupiers are "working farmers," 
who spend on the average about 60 per cent of their time 
on manual work, a proportion which varies from practically 
Full-time manual labour on small holdings up to about one- 
third on the larger farms, where the manual labour of the 
farmer is more or less confined to periods of seasonal pressure. 
Family labour also provides a considerable part of the 
manual labour, and in many parts the combined labour 
of the farmers and their relatives exceeds that of the wage- 
paid labour. 

Wage-earners in Welsh farming total 33,500, according 
to the Census returns, and are therefore fewer than the 
total of farmers. The ratio of farmers and graziers and their 
relatives to the employees for the whole country is 10 : 8, 
and varies from 10 : 9 in Anglesey to 10 : 4 in Carmarthen. 
Many of the employees are themselves sons and daughters 
of small holders and farmers, and there is little or no rigid 
class distinction between farmers and farm workers such as 
is characteristic of capitalist farming. The tendency towards 
this development exists only in those areas which have the 
better land and are normally the more prosperous. 

The organization of farming in Wales approaches that 
of the "peasant" rather than that of the "capitalist" type, 


and the economy is essentially that of "labour" rather 
than of " capital." But the current changes in technical 
practices and industrial organization tend to increase the 
importance of capital in the forms of both equipment and 
raw material, and it appears that although the size of the 
units may not show much change, and that probably in 
a downward direction, the importance of manual labour 
may diminish while the importance of capital with that of 
skill in its embodiment and use will rise. 

Farming types are not sharply defined in Wales and the 
uplands dominate the nature of the farming almost every- 
where. Most of the small tracts of lowlands are farmed in 
close relation to available upland resources. Regions roughly 
coinciding with watersheds are delineated below, but most 
of the farm types of Wales can be found in each one of 
these. The regions are : 

I. The Industrial South 

II . South-western Plain 

III. West Coast and Mountains 

IV. Anglesey and the North Coastal Plain 

V. Border Valleys and East Monmouthshire 


This region comprises West Monmouthshire, Glamorgan, 
and East Carmarthen. It extends from Newport in the east 
to Kidwelly in the west, and it is well known for its coal, 
metallurgical industries, and dockyards. The best agricul- 
tural land lies between the main railway line and the sea. 
Its area is small between Newport and Cardiff, but beyond 
this the lowlands open out into the fertile Vale of Glamorgan. 
The Gower Peninsula is also an important farming district. 
There is little lowland farming between Lougher and 
Burryport, but from this part onwards to Kidwelly there 


is an almost unbroken stretch of fertile land. There is a fair 
amount of farm land nearer the hills, but it is generally 
poorer as the hills are approached. There is a general ten- 
dency for the grassland to increase in the whole region, but 
it is more characteristic of the western portion than the 

Heavy and light-heavy horses are raised, but dairy 
farming predominates and the production of milk for sale 
is general. While there are still some areas where mixed 
farming prevails it is declining rapidly. Grass and stall- 
feeding of cattle is done to some extent in the Vale of 
Glamorgan, and stall-feeding in winter in some other 
localities, but this is on the wane. Sheep for breeding and 
raising stores are kept in the hilly districts, but fat lambs 
are produced in the lowlands. The flocks of the lowland 
are maintained mainly by purchase, but to some extent by 
breeding. A few breeding pigs are usually kept on most 
farms. The weaners reared on the upland farms are sold 
as stores to the lowland farms where they are fattened 
mainly for the pork market. Comparatively few baconers 
are produced for sale, but an appreciable number are 
produced for consumption on farms. Recently there has 
been an increase in the number of specialized bacon- 
producing plants. 

Stocks of poultry on specialized holdings, general farms 
and backyards have been increasing mainly for the produc- 
tion of eggs for the industrial districts. Table poultry is 
produced in the region for the Christmas market. Market 
gardening is important in some of the town areas, where 
there is some concentration. Production is mainly of 
outdoor crops, and there is little glasshouse culture 
apart from tomatoes and cucumbers and some varieties 
of lettuces and flowers. 

Farms are usually small on the gentle slopes at the foot 
of the hills and near towns, but they are much bigger in 
the lowlands. There are some sheep walks in the hills which, 


of course, are bigger than any farms in the lowlands, because 
they usually include vast areas of rough grazings. 

The farms are mainly conducted by family labour, but 
there is a considerable number of hired labourers on the 
bigger farms partly run by family labour; some farms are 
completely manned by hired labour, but these are few. 

Taking the region as a whole, cattle and milk farms are 
the most important, cattle and sheep farms on better land 
fairly important, and cattle and sheep farms on poor land 
and mixed farms occur but are not numerous. 


This region comprises almost the whole of Carmarthenshire 
and all of Pembrokeshire, with the exception of the Prescelly 
Mountains in the north of the county. Grassland dairy 
farming is the most prevalent type of farming in the east, 
but there is more arable land to the west. The tendency to 
increased recourse to the former type of farming is con- 
tinuing in a westward direction. There is some mixed farm- 
ing in the hill districts, but as roads improve, making the 
transport of milk possible and expedient, dairying replaces 
mixed farming. South Pembrokeshire is the most important 
area for sugar-beet growing in Wales, but there has been 
a decline in acreage with the decline in prices, for the cost 
of transport to the nearest factory renders production 
unremunerative. There is also some production of barley 
for seed. Early potatoes are now produced in commercial 
quantities, and an effort is being made to organize the 
trade in this area. Some branches of market gardening, both 
in the open and under glass, are receiving serious attention, 
but there is little land used for this purpose. 

Shires, colliery horses, cobs and ponies are raised. Cattle 
are numerous and are chiefly of dairy type, and milk is an 
important sale product on almost all the lowland farms and 


very many of the farms on the higher altitudes. In fact, the 
districts around Carmarthen and Llandilo have probably 
the longest history for sale of milk by wholesale in Wales. 
There are several milk-collecting depots and factories in 
Carmarthenshire. The main centre is Carmarthen town, 
but there are several at other places, notably Whitland to 
the west and Llandilo, which is in the centre of the fertile 
Vale of Towy in the north-east. South Pembrokeshire was 
once famous for a native breed of cattle, the Castle Martin 
Black, but they have largely disappeared. Sheep are kept 
mainly for breeding in the highlands and mainly for feeding 
in the lowlands. But the breeding and feeding of sheep are 
not localized in either district. There is some production of 
wether mutton, but fat lambs constitute the bulk of the fat 
sheep trade. Small numbers of breeding pigs are kept on 
practically all farms, and there is little specialized produc- 
tion, except perhaps pork pigs around Carmarthen town 
and towards the borders of Pembrokeshire. Breeding and 
feeding are not exactly localized, but there is a tendency 
for weaners to come from the poorer hill farms to the better 
farms for further feeding. Little bacon is made for direct 
sale, but a lot for consumption on farms. There is a tendency 
for more bacon to be produced in the west than the east 
of the region. 

Poultry stocks are mainly of the general farm type, but 
there have been recent improvements in methods of manage- 
ment and some development of specialist poultry holdings. 
Eggs are the important sale product, and there is little 
production of table poultry, except perhaps turkeys and to 
a lesser extent geese around the Christmas period. 

Farms are larger in the lowlands than in the highlands, 
and the largest farms are found in South Pembrokeshire. 
With the exception of the bigger farms, family labour is 
the predominant factor even in this region, but, of 
course, hired labour is necessary to successful conduct of 
the larger farms. The farms are mainly of the dairy type, 


some are of the mixed type, and some cattle and sheep on 
better land. 


This is much the biggest region in Wales, and comprises 
the uplands from the Prescelly Mountains in the south-west 
to Snowdonia in the north-west, and from the Foel Fammau 
in the north-east to the Brecon Beacons in the south-east. 
Cardiganshire, Merionethshire, Breconshire, Radnorshire, 
Montgomeryshire, and large portions of Caernarvonshire 
and Denbighshire are included in this region. But there are 
several fertile valleys in this area. There is some good live- 
stock farming for milk production and fat lamb production 
in some of them. (The Severn, Wye, and Usk Valleys merit 
separate treatment, and the farming there is described 
as a separate region.) Valleys like the Teifi and Dovey 
in the west, and the Teme and Lugg in the east are 
very much more fertile than the surrounding uplands, 
yet they are farmed in close association with the uplands 
through the customary transfer of live stock from the 
hills to the lowlands for further feeding. Generally the 
valleys in the rolling uplands towards the south are much 
wider than those to the north of the Dovey. 

There is some good mixed farming along the foot of the 
Prescelly range of mountains, and much stock rearing, 
mainly cattle and sheep, but milk production is growing in 
favour. Along the coast to Cardigan farms are usually 
larger and better and almost wholly devoted to milk pro- 
duction. Above Cardigan and towards Aberystwyth and 
the Dovey estuary barley was produced in large quantities, 
but this district from the sea to the foothills now produces 
cattle and sheep and milk for direct sale on the better land, 
and many more sheep and fewer cattle on the poorer land 
towards the mountains. On the real mountain there are 
practically no cattle and a lot of sheep and some ponies. 


The ponies are particularly numerous on the Eppynt Moun- 
tains and Beacons of Breconshire and to some extent on 
the borders of Shropshire, and the horses of the lower 
regions are of collier, cob, and strong pony types. Pigs and 
poultry are produced as sidelines, but there is some specialist 
production of poultry for egg production in the rolling 
countryside and slopes of the uplands. Market gardening 
is carried on only to a very small extent around the seaside 
and inland towns. The characteristic farm types are cattle 
and sheep on poor land with a little of cattle and sheep on 
better land in the better situations. But the latter are tending 
more to become milk-selling farms with the growth of 
economic possibilities in the milk market. 

The north-west of this region is unique of its kind, with 
high peaks lacking vegetation and deep narrow valleys, 
some of which are full of boulders and stones, and others 
are fairly fertile. This is a sheep-farming country and little 
of any other type of farming stock is kept. 

Farm sizes vary in the hill districts from big sheep walks 
to very small squatter farms. The farmers of the latter make 
full use of the free mountain grazing rights that are asso- 
ciated with their farms. Generally the lowland farms are 
bigger than those on the slopes but which are not properly 
in the mountain districts. 

Labour is provided mainly by the families, but there is 
some hired labour on some of the bigger farms of the low- 
lands and uplands. 


The region comprises the Isle of Anglesey and the Lleyn 
Peninsula in Caernarvonshire, and the lowlands of Flint- 
shire and Denbighshire. 

Anglesey is the only county in Wales with all its land 
surface below 500 feet above sea-level, and this largely 
determined the character of its farming, which was arable 


combined with cattle raising. Now, however, it is largely 
pastoral combined with cattle and sheep feeding. Hundreds 
of fatted Welsh Black and other cattle and cross-bred 
lambs leave for the English towns each year. The Lleyn 
Peninsula produces fewer fat cattle, though there are plenty 
of the Welsh Black dotted about on its better lands. This 
district is again famous for fat lambs and these go to 
English markets. Some pigs and poultry are kept on most 
farms, but both are regarded as sidelines, except perhaps 
pigs in some parts of the Lleyn district where there has 
been and still is some production of heavier type bacon 
for sale. 

Both Anglesey and Lleyn show some development of 
market gardening in the open, though it may be less impor- 
tant now than formerly in the case of some crops. The 
former was a big producer of carrots, onions, and cabbage 
plants, and there is a tendency to revive production of 
some of these. Bulb propagation and cauliflower and 
broccoli production are being tried in the latter district. 
The farming would be described as cattle and sheep better 
land, with a tendency to favour the development of dairy 
farming, particularly towards the east and near centres of 
concentration of population. 

Beyond Llandudno to the east the lowlands open out to 
the best lands of Flint and Denbigh, and include the fertile 
Vale of Clwyd. Dairy farming predominates, and this used 
to be combined with cheese-making and pig feeding, and 
cattle raising and butter-making, but now milk for sale is 
generally produced. Where cheese-making still persists pigs 
are made into baconers for the Midland trade, but in 
other areas they are made into porkers. Poultry are 
managed mainly on general farm lines, but there is con- 
siderable development of specialist production of eggs and 
some of table poultry, particularly along the eastern limits 
of the region. 

There are several important market-gardening areas, and 


they are mainly in the fertile valleys. That in the Holt 
district of the Dee Valley is the most important and is well 
known for its strawberries. There are others along the coast 
from Queensferry to Bangor, and some others in sheltered 
places, while there is some concentration in the Conway 
Valley. Seed potatoes certified free from virus diseases 
are produced over the whole region, and in some of the 
hillier districts outside the regional limits set here. The 
Clwyd Valley also produces a local type of clover seed, 
and some attempt is being made to improve and organize 
this industry. 

Farms are generally fairly large in Anglesey and parts of 
the Dee and Clwyd valleys, but apart from these districts 
farms are generally small and of the type usually found in 
Wales and run by family and hired labour. 


This is the region of the Severn, Wye, and Usk valleys which 
cut through the uplands of the mountain region. In the 
upper reaches of these rivers the farming is typical moun- 
tain sheep and cattle raising. But all three valleys are 
quite fertile not very far from their sources, and they ulti- 
mately contribute to that excellent agricultural land lying 
beyond the Welsh border in Shropshire, Herefordshire, and 
Gloucestershire, and part of east Monmouthshire gets its 
soil characteristics from the same source. 

The Severn Valley is the most noted. It was once an 
important arable district very well known for its wheat, its 
grey Shire horses, and stout, tough oak trees. Now it is the 
most important grass stock-feeding district in Wales, being 
within easy reach of excellent supplies of store cattle and 
sheep. The centre of this feeding area is Welshpool, but 
milk production is rapidly gaining favour and tends to 
displace the feeding systems of farming, more particularly 
of cattle. The Shire horses are still produced and there is 


a tendency for production to increase. Pigs and poultry 
are relatively unimportant enterprises and are managed on 
general farm lines. There is practically no market gardening, 
but there is a growing industry in seed production of 
indigenous clovers and grasses. The area devoted to this 
form of production is small, but it has been increasing in 
the last few years. Farms are generally larger than in other 
regions, and there is less family labour and more hired 
labour employed. 

The farms in the Wye Valley are typical cattle and sheep 
farms down to Builth. From there the valley opens out, 
the land is more fertile, and there is some breeding and 
feeding of cattle and sheep and a considerable amount of 
arable cultivation. Pigs as weaners and porkers are 
produced, but there is little poultry farming except on 
general farms. Farms are larger in the east than in the 
west, and hired labour is more important than family labour. 

The Vale of Usk is much like the Wye, and the agriculture 
in the upper reaches is typical mixed farming devoted to 
the raising of store cattle and sheep and some ponies. But 
at Brecon the valley opens out, and with its tributary 
valleys going up towards Talgarth and Hay and down 
towards Sennybridge and Devynock it forms a big farming 
district where the farms are probably the most neatly kept 
in Wales. Cattle and sheep were bred and fed, but latterly 
milk production has been becoming customary. Much the 
same sort of thing occurs along the valley to Abergavenny, 
cattle and sheep feeding and rearing being displaced by 
milk production. But around Abergavenny and along to 
Raglan and Monmouth there is still a lot of feeding of 
cattle on the lowlands and breeding of cattle in the uplands. 
East Monmouth, lying between the rivers Usk and Wye, is 
a cattle-raising country, but with a distinct tendency to 
change to milk production in the last few years. Pigs are 
mainly produced for pork, but some baconers for sale are 
made. Poultry, though mainly stocked on general farms a are 


run on more specialized lines in the area than any other in 
Wales. There is a lot of market gardening in East Monmouth, 
both in the open and under glass, and this is localized in 
parts of the Usk Valley, more particularly near Abergavenny 
and also in places between Newport and Chepstow. 

In the areas described there are many individual varia- 
tions of farms and small localities from the main charac- 
teristics or types of the general regions. There are also 
similarities between the regions and their farming. From 
accounting data it is possible to display the economic 
features of four types of farming which could be found in 
any area covering lowland or valleys, hills and the higher 
uplands. Of these types, that described as "sheep and cattle 
poor land" would be found in any upland area where sheep 
predominate. The type described as "sheep and cattle 
better land" will be found in all middle-hill areas, and on 
some lowland areas where soils are poor. That described 
as "mixed farms" tends to follow the lowland areas, but 
rises to the hills to some extent. It represents more com- 
mercial interest in crops, and more specializing in live-stock 
enterprises particularly pigs. The type described as "cattle 
and milk" can be found in every lowland area of the thirteen 

Type i. Sheep and Cattle, Poor Land 

Over half the total area of these farms is rough grazing, 
about a third is pasture and hay, and the rest is arable, 
oats being the most important arable crop. Practically all 
crops are used for feeding farm households and farm animals. 
Live stock are mainly sheep and to a lesser extent cattle, 
with few pigs, poultry, and horses. Capitalization is low, 
being mainly in live stock and implements. Well over 90 per 
cent of receipts are for live stock and live-stock products. 
The percentage distribution is cattle and dairy produce 
47 per cent, sheep and wool 27*3 per cent, pigs, poultry 


and eggs, and horses 2 1 8 per cent, and crops less than 
4 per cent. Rent, hired labour and family labour, feeding- 
stuffs and live-stock replacements are the main items of 
expenditure. Little is spent on seeds and manures. The 
labour complement is low at just over one fully employed 
man per 100 acres. 

Type 2. Sheep and Cattle, Better Land 

Nearly 60 per cent of the land is pasture and 80 per cent 
is pasture and hay, 14 per cent is arable, and only about 
6 per cent rough grazing. Three quarters of the arable land 
is cropped with cereals, and oats is the most important crop. 
Almost all the crops are consumed on the farms and in the 
farmhouses. Cattle are more important than sheep, and 
horses, pigs, and poultry are still less important in the 
stocking of the farms, which is significantly heavier than 
in Type i. Capital is mainly in live stock and implements, 
and much higher than Type i. Receipts are also much 
higher than in Type i, and the percentage distribution is 
cattle and dairy produce 43 3 per cent, sheep and wool 
31-5 per cent, pigs, poultry and eggs 8 per cent each, and 
horses 2*4 per cent; less than 7 per cent is derived from 
crops. Total expenditure is considerably greater than in 
Type i, and the proportions are: rent and rates 21*7 per 
cent, family and hired labour 25 7 per cent, feeding-stuffs 
12-8 per cent, live-stock replacements 26-9 per cent, and 
the remainder is for sundry items and seeds, manures, and 
implements. Slightly over two men are fully employed per 
100 acres. 

Type 3. Mixed Farms 

There is more arable land on this type than on any of 
the others, but nearly half the acreage is pasture and three- 
quarters pasture and hay. The area of rough grazing is 
significantly low at 2-3 per cent. Stocking is relatively 


heavy and is nearly the equivalent of two acres to a cow. 
The cattle enterprise is particularly important, and it is 
fairly closely followed by pigs and sheep : horses and poultry 
are unimportant. Capitalization is higher than in any of 
the other three types and is about 12 an acre, and most 
of it is invested in live stock and implements; receipts 
are twice as much as those in Type 2 and are chiefly from 
the live-stock enterprises. The percentage distribution is: 
cattle and dairy produce 38-4 per cent, sheep and wool 
12 2 per cent, pigs 28 per cent, poultry and eggs 10-2 per 
cent, horses i -8 per cent, and crops less than 10 per cent. 
The principal items of expenditure are : rent and rates 16 -8 
per cent, family and hired labour 22 2 per cent, feeding- 
stuffs 22 -9 per cent, live-stock replacements 26 i per cent. 
Very little is spent on seeds and manures. The amount of 
labour employed is the highest of all types, being over 
three men fully employed per 100 acres. 

Type 4. Cattle and Milk 

Over half the land on this type is pasture and 80 per cent 
is pasture and hay, while the acreage of rough grazing is 
higher and that of arable land lower than in Types 2 and 3. 
Less stock is carried than in Type 3, and cattle are easily 
the most important. Most of the capital is invested in live 
stock and implements, crops accounting for just over 1 1 per 
cent. Receipts are a little lower than those in Type 3, but 
over 93 per cent are from live stock and live-stock products, 
and the percentage distribution is : cattle and dairy produce 
68 '4 per cent, sheep and wool 10-7 per cent, pigs 8 per 
cent, poultry and eggs 5 per cent, horses i -4 per cent, and 
crops slightly over 6 per cent. Expenses also are lower than 
those for Type 3. The main items are: rent and rates 17-5 
per cent, family and hired labour 21-7 per cent, feeding- 
stuffs 23 '9 per cent, live-stock replacements 22 '7 per cent. 
Expenditure on seeds and manures is very low. Slightly 
under three men are fully employed per 100 acres. 


Efficiency and Progress 

In spite of its "peasant" character Welsh farming shows 
considerable adaptability within the range of its products 
and in technical methods. It also shows adaptability within 
the general form of its organization, although general farms 
show relatively little change. It is probable that production 
per acre was never so high as at present, and the production 
per person has been continuously increasing during the 
past sixty years. There has been a considerable substitution 
of equine power for manual labour, and at times develop- 
ment of substitution of mechanical power for both. There 
has been increasing use of fertilisers and increasing interest 
in the rational use of supplies. The increasing use of pur- 
chased feed-stuffs may be sentimentally deplored, but in 
view of the necessity of securing continued growth and 
early maturity or marketability of stock, and the fact that 
the products of the arable land are not rich in proteins, 
the extended use of purchased feeds has led to economy. 
Again, there has been increasing interest in the rationale 
of use. 

Effort to maintain, even to improve, the quality of live 
stock is fairly widespread. There have been periods of con- 
fusion with regard to aims in breeding, uncertainty of trends 
in market requirements, and uncertain or intermittent 
breeding policies in some areas and periods. But since the 
introduction of the Live Stock Improvement Scheme Wales 
has made the greatest possible use of its facilities. On the 
whole, there is considerable interest in the maintenance 
and improvement of quality of grassland although there 
was considerable reduction in purchase of fertilisers during 
the recent depression. In general, there is higher output 
for given inputs in all classes of live stock than formerly. 
Yields of milk per cow have increased. In breeding herds of 
cattle and flocks of sheep sales per 100 head maintained 
have increased. 


The net effect of the combined changes has been that of 
raising the productivity per person something like 50 per 
cent in the last sixty years, or at the rate of about 8 per cent 
in ten years. The actual rate of rise of efficiency varies from 
time to time, but it appears to have been relatively rapid 
between 1921 and 1931 and until depression caused some 
slowing down. With improvement in general economic 
conditions there is promise of fairly rapid technical improve- 
ments leading to further rise of economic efficiency. 

Chapter XIII 

The North of Scotland 






North of Scotland College of Agriculture, Aberdeen 



The North of Scotland 

THIS province embraces the mainland counties of Kin- 
cardine, Aberdeen, Banff, Moray, Nairn, Inverness, Ross 
and Cromarty, Sutherland, and Caithness, and the islands 
of Orkney and Shetland to the north and the Hebrides to 
the west. On its southern boundary, stretching from Loch 
Linnhe on the west to Montrose on the east, it joins with 
the provinces of the South-west and South-east of Scot- 
land. In area it is over 9 million acres of which only i \ 
million are under crops and grass. Mountain and heath 
land used for grazing occupy another 5 million acres, 
leaving over <z\ million acres as waste mountain land, deer 
forests, woodland, and land occupied by towns, roads, etc. 

The province is sparsely populated, the average density 
being only 73 persons per 1,000 acres, compared with 
480 per 1,000 acres in the South-west Province of Scotland. 
Excepting the narrow straths like the Spey and the Shin 
the population is concentrated in the lowland strip which 
runs along the eastern seaboard. Aberdeen, with a popu- 
lation of about 167,000, is the only large city. Inverness 
takes second place with a population of 22,582, and Peter- 
head comes next with 12,545. Inland there are a fair number 
of market towns and small villages, and along the east 
coast there are numerous townships and fishing villages, 
but all are small. There are no industrial belts in the province. 

The roads, with the exception of those in the mountains, 
are mainly good. The largest proportion of agricultural 
transport is now by motor lorries, to such an extent in fact 
that farm horses now rarely cart any produce except for 
very short distances. Some part of the transport is done 
by coastal steamers. There are many small ports on the 
east coast where cargoes may be shipped, and from Aberdeen 


many of the coastal services carry agricultural produce to 

The province is practically an export area for all pro- 
ducts. Cattle fattened in the area are largely designed for 
the London and Glasgow markets, especially the former, 
either direct or through various agencies. Oats, which are 
the main grain crop, are also sold to a large extent for 
export from the area, mainly to the Edinburgh market. 
The growing of seed oats for shipment south is also an 
important trade. 

The agriculture of the province as a whole is determined 
and restricted by its physical features and its distance from 
the large industrial centres. As already stated, only i\ 
million acres out of a total of over 9 million are classified 
as cultivated land, and except for small patches in the 
mountain glens, the whole of this cultivated land lies along 
the eastern seaboard. This coastal belt is 30-40 miles at 
its widest in Aberdeenshire and continues at widths of 
i o to 20 miles along the shores of the Moray Firth in the 
counties of Banff, Moray, and Nairn, and on to Inverness. 
North of Inverness there is a short strip between the Beauly 
and Dornoch Firths which includes the fertile areas of the 
Black Isle and Easter Ross, but northwards for 40 miles 
or so the hills come right to the coast and there is no lowland 
until Caithness is reached. 

Inland from the coastal lowland strip, and between it 
and the mountains, there lies a belt of foothills which, 
except in places where the mountains rise steeply, stretches 
from Kincardineshire to Caithness. Some of this is cultivated 
land, but it is mainly a grassland area devoted to cattle 
breeding and sheep rearing. 

Elsewhere the province is mainly mountainous. The 
whole of the middle and western sections form a practically 
solid block of mountains, large stretches being over 1,200 
feet above sea-level, and apart from the steep valleys and 
straths which are to a large extent occupied by deep sea 


and inland lochs, practically the whole is over 800 feet 
high. Agriculturally this large area of rugged grandeur 
contributes rough grazings, but a very large part of it 
is barren waste. The province being bounded on the west 
by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the North Sea, 
and with its high mountains in the west and middle, has a 
rainfall exceedingly varied throughout its area. On the 
east coast it varies from about 21 inches at Nairn to 31 
inches at Peterhead, while farther inland it rises to about 
36 inches. On the west coast the fall varies from about 
76 to 100 inches, according to location. In the Hebrides it 
varies from 44 to 71, while in the northern islands it is 
about 36 in Orkney and 38 in Shetland. 

The system of land tenure over the major part of the 
province is that of landlord and tenant, although, as else- 
where in the country, post-war years have seen a marked 
increase in the number of farmers owning the farm they 
occupy. An exceptional type of tenure is found throughout 
the Highlands, more widely in this province than in the 
other provinces of Scotland, in the "crofting" system, which 
is briefly mentioned in the later description of the moun- 
tainous region. 

Farms in the province are generally small, except for 
the large hill sheep walks. Many are of the family-farm 
type operated by the farmer and his family without any 
hired labour at all. On the larger farms, the married hired 
labour is housed in farm cottages and payment in kind is 
made in addition to the money wage. Single men are 
housed under either the "bothie" or the "chaumer" system. 
Half-yearly or yearly hiring of the regular labour is the 
usual practice. 

The chief markets for fat cattle are Aberdeen and Elgin, 
but there are many other auction marts scattered through- 
out the province. The animals may be purchased by local 
butchers or by dealers or by agents for South firms. Dealer 
purchasers may repitch in a larger mart or, like the agents 


for South firms, have the animals slaughtered and sent to 
London or elsewhere in the South in carcase form. As 
previously stated, a large part of the beef output of the area 
goes South but mainly to London. Apart from whole car- 
cases there is also a definite trade in parts of carcases, e.g. 
"short sides" and "joints," between the North and London. 
Many small-town butchers send part of every carcase they 
handle to London. 

Store cattle are generally sold through auction marts, 
but a fair number are sold privately. In the most noted 
store-raising areas, e.g. Gfantown, there are special annual 
sales of store cattle and buyers attend from all over the 
country. Otherwise the auction marts handling fat stock 
are utilized. North country and Shetland stores are pur- 
chased in the Aberdeenshire and Morayshire marts for 
feeding in these counties. The supply of home-reared stores 
does not satisfy the demand for this class of stock, and large 
numbers are imported from Ireland and in some years 
from Canada also. These usually pass through the hands 
of one or more dealers before the feeder buys them through 
the auction mart, but in some cases the feeders may purchase 
direct from Ireland or immediately on importation. 

Sheep are usually marketed through the auction marts 
also, but in autumn special sheep sales are held in the main 
sheep areas. Very large numbers of cast ewes and store 
lambs are sold for export to the more fertile areas, the 
lambs to be fattened off and the cast ewes to form the 
flying flocks of the lowlands. Many of the Highland store 
lambs are taken to the midlands of Scotland and to England. 
The fat lambs produced in the lowlands are generally sold 
through the auction marts though a proportion is sold 

Grain, mainly oats, is usually purchased by dealers who 
send it South. Barley when of good quality is purchased in 
some years by the local distilleries for whisky production. 
In recent years, however, the demand has been falling off, 


and the farmers are now somewhat reluctant to continue 
growing the crop. 

The various farming systems throughout the area can 
generally be traced to soil conditions, climate, altitude, 
and, to a less extent, accessibility. Thus the mountains with 
their poor grazings and general inaccessibility are devoted 
solely to sheep grazing; the foothills and the valleys with 
their relatively better soils and more sheltered conditions 
are mainly cattle breeding and sheep rearing areas; while 
the lowlands with their more fertile soil and more even 
climate form a mixed farming area devoted to grain growing 
and stock fattening. 

Changes in practices are slowly taking place, and the 
farmers are trying to adjust themselves to the changing 
conditions of the country as a whole. The main effect of 
the agricultural depression has been to tend to increase the 
number of grass-fed cattle with a proportionate decrease 
in the number of house-fed animals. To meet this the 
cropping rotation has been extended from 6 to 7 or 8 years' 
duration, the extension being effected by leaving the grass 
down longer. In many cases the number of cattle carried 
has not been materially increased, but sheep, which have 
been less severely affected by the fall in prices, are being 
kept more extensively in order to utilize the grass. 

The main features which affect agriculture are common 
to all areas, but as the great centres of population are far 
removed from this province, and the climate and topo- 
graphy cannot be compared with that of more southerly 
situated areas, the problems of reorganization are somewhat 
more difficult. Resort to wheat production under present 
favourable conditions is not possible, and utilization of land 
for the production of the more nitrogenous crops such as 
linseed has not proved successful, so that the farmer must 
consider the balance between crop and stock from a less 
diversified angle than his fellows in the South. His choice of 
grain crop being oats, and of root crops turnips and swedes, 


does not give him much chance, but he has realized that 
to be successful he must organize his holding so that the 
maximum production is possible along the most efficient 
line. To accomplish this he is using as far as possible 
quality seeds and manures, improved bulls and females, and 
attempting to produce the commodities most likely to find a 
satisfactory market, provided the return for quality justifies 
the special attention to detail required. 

For the purpose of more detailed description the province 
may be roughly divided into three main regions. The nature 
of the province makes it difficult to mark these off on the 
map, but from the altitudes shown by the shading of the 
map, the outlines of the two mainland regions are fairly 
clear. The regions are as follows : 

I. The Lowland Coastal Belt and the Foothills 
II. The Mountain Region 
III. The Islands 


The whole of the undulating lowland belt along the eastern 
seaboard from Kincardine to Easter Ross is an area of 
mixed farming whose predominant features are grain grow- 
ing and cattle feeding. In Kincardine, Aberdeen, and Banff 
the soil, though varied, may be classed as medium and is 
mainly free-working sharp land. Further west in Moray 
and Nairn it is slightly heavier and more fertile, while on 
to Inverness and the Beauly Firth it is sharper again and of 
medium quality. North of that there are the deep and 
highly fertile soils of the Black Isle and Easter Ross. The 
farms in the Haughs of Moray, the Black Isle, and Easter 
Ross are larger than elsewhere, but taking the lowland 
area as a whole the farms are comparatively small. In the 
foothills region they are smaller still, many of them being 
of the small holding type. 


Aberdeenshire claims the largest area of lowland, and 
the farming here is largely typical of the whole belt. The 
cropping system in general practice is a six-course rotation, 
viz. oats, roots (turnips and swedes), oats (sown out), grass 
(partially or wholly hayed), grass, grass. In some areas, 
e.g. Moray and Banff, barley is sometimes taken after the 
root break, but very little wheat is grown anywhere. 
Generally speaking potatoes are grown only in sufficient 
quantity to supply the farmhouse and the employees, but 
there is some commercial growing for export to the South. 
Many farms near the towns grow a few extra acres for 
local sale. Very little sugar beet is grown, the land being 
too sharp and stony. Grass seed mixtures have been fairly 
closely studied, and the pasture of to-day shows a great 
improvement as compared with that of a quarter of a 
century ago. The balancing of the grasses and the intro- 
duction of wild white clover have materially improved the 
quality and the carrying capacity of the pasture lands. 

The main, and in many cases the only, cash crop is 
oats, which, as already mentioned, is sold largely for export 
to the South. It is generally a condition of all leases that 
no straw be sold off the farm, the return of the straw to the 
land in the form of dung being considered essential for good 
husbandry. Hay used to be an important cash crop before 
the general adoption of mechanical transport. 

It is not the cropping, however, but the live stock that 
dominates the farming practice in this area. The cropping 
is, in fact, largely incidental to the live stock branches, 
being designed primarily for the production of feeding stuffs 
for them. Among the live stock, cattle occupy by far the 
most important position either from the purely feeding or 
from the breeding, rearing, and feeding aspects. Sheep 
occupy an important but minor position and dairying is 
quite subsidiary to the production of fat stock. 

The farms may be divided into three types: (i) those 
on which feeding is the main enterprise, (2) those on which 


breeding, rearing, and feeding are combined, and (3) those 
which confine themselves to breeding and rearing. 

There are no wide areas in which any one of these types 
occurs to the total exclusion of the others, but generally 
speaking the feeding farms are confined to the all-arable 
lowland strip and the breeding and feeding to the foothills 
and the more outlying districts generally, with the second 
type the breeding, rearing, and feeding farms lying 
between. There is no distinct division, however, the types 
merging into each other almost imperceptibly. 

The farms on which feeding is the main enterprise are 
usually above average in size, and the cattle fed may be 
either home-bred or imported. Most, perhaps, handle both. 
The home-bred stores, mainly Aberdeen-Angus crosses, are 
obtained from the neighbouring outlying districts and foot- 
hills, and the imported are mostly Irish coloured cattle of 
the Shorthorn type. 

The feeding practices vary somewhat, but generally 
speaking a proportion of the cattle are fed inside during 
the winter months either in courts or in byres, and the 
remainder fed off the grass in summer. During the last 
few years there has been a tendency towards a larger num- 
ber of summer-fed cattle with a proportionate decrease in 
the number of house-fed animals. In certain instances only 
grass feeding is practised, the cattle being carried through 
the winter in store condition. 

The farms which go in largely for breeding, rearing, and 
feeding cattle are very often the smaller in size. The usual 
practice is to carry a number of breeding cows and to 
purchase a number of young calves, so that each cow rears 
more than her own calf. On a few of the smallest farms 
"cogging," i.e. pail-feeding, of calves is practised. The 
animals are fed off on the farm on which they are reared. 
The cropping on these farms is the same as on those on 
which feeding is the main enterprise except that there may 
be a larger proportion of grass. 


This group merges with those farms, mostly all small, 
which confine themselves to breeding and rearing only, 
and are typical of the foothills region and the poorer and 
more outlying districts of the lowlands. The system, up to 
a point, is the same as that of the breeding, rearing, and 
feeding farms, breeding cows being carried and made to 
rear more than their own calves. The calves may be sold 
off as soon as they are weaned or they may be kept on and 
sold later as stores. The cropping is also much the same 
except that there is less of it and a much larger proportion 
of permanent pasture. 

In this region as a whole dairying is quite subsidiary to the 
production of beef cattle, but round the towns it occupies 
an important place in the farming. The production of milk 
is in fact in excess of local requirements and there is some 
export to the South, but it is only a small trade. There are 
no purely dairying districts in the region. The milk farms 
are scattered among the ordinary farms and differ very 
little from them except that milk cows have taken the 
place of beef cattle. The cropping is practically the same 
as on the neighbouring farms, and, like their neighbours, 
the dairy farms vary greatly in size and quality. During 
recent years the milking machine has been introduced to 
a number of dairy farms, and progress in this direction is 
steady but not rapid. 

The cows are predominantly of the Cross Shorthorn type, 
and are mainly imported from Ireland and the South-west 
of Scotland. During the last few years there has been a 
tendency for farmers to favour to a greater extent the 
Ayrshire breed, and to-day there are several pure Ayrshire 
herds and quite a few Ayrshire-Shorthorn crosses. The 
usual practice is to buy cows either as calving heifers or as 
calving cows and to keep them for several lactations and 
then replace by purchase. On very few farms is the breeding 
and rearing of young heifers practised, except in the case 
of the pure-bred Friesian (Holstein) and Dairy Shorthorn 


herds scattered throughout the area. There is no dairying 
in the foothills except around the small upland towns. 
Throughout the area a few cows are kept on every farm to 
supply the farmhouse and the employees. 

Before the war sheep were seldom seen on the lowland 
arable farms except when they were taken in from the 
hills for wintering, but now the majority carry sheep. Some 
carry flying flocks, some feeding flocks, and some carry 
both. With the feeding flocks the general practice is to 
purchase store lambs from the hills at the autumn sales, 
and feed them off on grass and roots during the winter. 
The flying flock consist mainly of cast ewes from the hills 
and foothills, and have one or two crops of lambs and are 
then fattened off. The lowland lambs are generally born 
early in the year and are mainly away for slaughter by 
autumn, so that they do not compete with the winter-fed 
lambs any more than can be helped. 

Pedigree sheep are to be found scattered throughout the 
province, and annual sales of this class are held. They are 
mainly purchased for changing the blood in the commercial 
flocks which consist mainly of Half-breds. 

In the foothills there is more concentration on the breed- 
ing and less on feeding, most of the lambs being sold as 
stores. The foothills are essentially a store stock area, the 
main products sold being store sheep and store cattle. 

Pigs on the whole are not found in large numbers, but 
during the past few years a number of farmers have extended 
this enterprise and now produce bacon pigs and/or young 
pigs to an appreciable extent. The poultry enterprise has 
in many instances become of such a size as to have a definite 
position in the farm economy. In the majority of cases 
commercial egg production is the aim, but a few poultry 
keepers specialize in pedigree breeding and cater for the 
stock bird trade. Many breeds are represented, but the 
most common are the White Wyandotte, Leghorn, and 
Rhode Island Red. 


The foregoing description applies in general to the whole 
lowland strip along the eastern seaboard and its neighbour- 
ing foothills, but in particular it applies to Aberdeenshire, 
and some further details are necessary about some parts 
of this region as they differ slightly from the general system 
of farming already described. 

Banffshire, which has only a narrow strip of lowland, has 
on the whole more breeding and less feeding of cattle than 
Aberdeenshire. Poultry are less important, but arable sheep- 
farming is more common. More barley is grown here than 
in Aberdeenshire generally, and is sold when possible to 
the many distilleries which are mainly situated in the foot- 
hills of Banff and Moray. These distilleries provide draff 
(wet distillers' grains) and other by-products which are 
used as foodstuffs by the neighbouring farmers. In these 
foothills also there are found many pure-bred herds of 
Aberdeen-Angus cattle of world renown, e.g. Ballin- 

The lowlands of Moray and Nairn, or the Haughs of 
Moray, form the most fertile and most intensively farmed 
area in the whole of the North of Scotland Province. It is 
often referred to as the "Garden of the North." The farms 
are larger and more intensively cultivated than in Aberdeen- 
shire, but cattle feeding is still the main enterprise. Some 
wheat is grown here, also some sugar beet, and also carrots 
on a small scale commercially. More barley is grown, and 
more hay is cut than in any other part of the province. 

Moving westwards into Inverness-shire conditions and 
farming similar to those in Banffshire are found until, 
turning northwards, the Black Isle and Easter Ross are 
reached. These are two fertile lowland regions in which 
many of the farms are fairly large and in which the farming 
is fairly intensive. Potato growing is more extensively carried 
on here than in most areas of the province, and there is a 
considerable export trade of seed and ware potatoes to the 
South. Breeding and feeding of cattle and of sheep is prac- 


tised with emphasis on the feeding in the lowlands and on 
the breeding on the foothills to the west. Highland cattle 
crossed with Shorthorn are more common in this area than 
the Aberdeen-Angus crosses. Crofting is the common tenure 
in these foothills. 

The mixed arable and beef farming typical of the province 
as a whole terminates in Easter Ross. Further north there 
is practically no lowland until the fairly flat north-east 
corner of Caithness is reached. This area is very largely 
under grass, and cattle and sheep breeding are the main 
features of the farming. The cattle are mixed, but are mainly 
of the Shorthorn and Aberdeen-Angus types with an 
admixture of West Highland blood. In this region there is 
much moor all over the flats and stone slab quarries are 
numerous. The slabs are used for fencing and also for 
building purposes. 


This region occupies most of the land area of the North 
of Scotland Province, but as most of it lies above 1,200 feet, 
and the lower altitudes are found in steep glens and straths 
and inland lochs, sheep hold almost exclusive importance 
in the farming. The land is rocky and the herbage largely 
mountain grasses and heather. Carrying capacity is there- 
fore very low and the sheep walks large, usually running 
into thousands of acres. 

The system of sheep farming is in the main the same as 
that described in more detail in the province of West and 
South-west of Scotland. The flocks are maintained by 
home-bred ewe hoggs. The lambs are sold in the autumn 
mainly at special sheep sales, buyers attending from all 
over the country but mostly from the neighbouring low- 
lands. The ewes are usually taken to the lower ground 
during the winter and the ewe hoggs may be sent to the 
lowlands and wintered away. Many of the lowland farms 


let winter grazing for this purpose, and the foothill region 
usually winters a large proportion of the mountain breeding 

The sheep on the mountain sheep walks are mainly pure- 
bred Scotch Blackface, but the two most northerly counties 
of the mainland, Sutherland and Caithness, are famous 
as one of the chief areas of the Cheviot breed, the other 
being the Border counties which give the name to the 
breed. The Cheviot breed found in these northern counties 
is larger and has other points of difference from the breed 
of the Cheviot hills. In the valleys and lower altitudes of 
the mountain region Cheviots, Half-breds, and Greyfaces 
are found. 

Cattle are found only in very small numbers and are 
mainly of the West Highland breed, in some cases crossed 
with the Shorthorn. Cultivation is non-existent except in 
some of the valleys, and then only to a very small extent. 
Throughout the whole mountainous region sheep are in 
undisputed possession. 

In the Highland glens, and particularly on the shores of 
the sea lochs which bite everywhere into the rugged coast, 
the system of "crofting" prevails. The system is one of 
ancient, hereditary tenure of small patches of cultivated 
land combined with rights of common grazing on the steep 
hillsides. It is little more than subsistence farming helped 
out by part-time occupation in fishing, domestic spinning 
and weaving, and in some of the occupations provided by 
the need for catering for the summer and autumn sporting 
and holiday trade. The problem of these "congested" 
crofting areas has been exercising public authorities for 
the past half-century. 


This region is made to include both the islands of the 
Hebrides which lie in great number on the west coast, and 


also the two groups of islands which make up the counties 
of Orkney and Shetland in the north. 

From Thurso in the north-east corner of Caithness the 
Orkney Islands can be seen on a clear day. The group is 
composed of many islands varying greatly in size, some 
being inhabited and some merely the resort of sea birds. 
The soil is also vary variable, but where it is cultivated it 
is fairly good loam. 

The farms are mainly small and are farmed similar to 
the foothills of the mainland. The farmers are very pro- 
gressive and have introduced up-to-date methods of culture 
and marketing. In some respects they are ahead of their 
neighbours on the mainland. 

Cattle breeding and sheep breeding are the main enter- 
prises though there is a certain amount of feeding also. 
Some of the islands are wholly stocked with sheep. The 
store stock produced is marketed on the mainland largely 
in Aberdeen, The cattle are mainly Aberdeen-Angus 
type of fair quality. Horse breeding is also practised, 
and a moderately good class of commercial gelding is 
exported. The poultry enterprise is highly developed here 
and forms a very definite source of income to the majority 
of the farmers. 

The Shetland Islands lie further north, and the land is 
more barren. Peat bogs abound, and arable land is scarce. 
Several valleys in the largest island Zetland are fairly 
fertile, but the large proportion of the county is little more 
than rough grazing stocked with Shetland, Blackface, and 
cross-bred sheep. The Shetland pony, which in bygone 
days was a valuable part of the stocking on these grazings, 
has almost disappeared and sheep have now full sway. 
On the south of Zetland the climate is exceptionally mild, 
and vegetable crops of the early variety can and are grown 
in small quantities, but seldom on a commercial scale. 

Some of the northern islands in this group, e.g. Fetlar 
and Unst, export numbers of store cattle, and generally 


the breeding and rearing of stores is practised. The type 
of cattle in many cases leaves much to be desired, but there 
are definite signs of improvement taking place due to the 
importation of good bulls mainly of the Aberdeen-Angus 
and Shorthorn breeds. 

The Hebrides on the west coast, the largest of which are 
Lewis and Skye, are similar to Shetland in that they are 
largely peat bog and rough grazing on which sheep pre- 
dominate although they are not numerous. The rearing 
of store sheep is the main farming enterprise, but farming 
here is very largely only a part-time occupation. Fishing 
is perhaps the main source of income to the crofting com- 
munity. Other sources of income are the gathering of kelp 
for the manufacture of iodine, cottage weaving, and in 
some cases catering for the tourist, but with all the sources 
the livelihood obtained is only meagre. 

Chapter XIV 

The East and South-East of Scotland 






Edinburgh and East of Scotland College of Agriculture 

800-1200 f*' 
i*800 ff 


County Boundaries * 
Regional Boundaries * * + 



The East and South-East of Scotland 

THE South-eastern Province comprises the counties of 
Berwick, Selkirk, Roxburgh, Peebles, East Lothian, Mid- 
lothian, West Lothian, Fife, Clackmannan, Kinross, Angus, 
and the eastern part of Perth. The province runs from the 
borders of England in the south to Montrose in the north, 
where it adjoins the North of Scotland Province, and, on 
the whole of its western side, adjoins the South-western 
Province. The eastern boundary is the North Sea, with the 
wide estuaries of the Forth and Tay cutting deep into 
the land. 

Although lying outside the main industrial belt of Scot- 
land, these counties contain nearly one-third of the popu- 
lation of the country, rather more uniformly scattered than 
in the other two provinces, the one with its dense population 
round Glasgow and the other with its very sparsely populated 
Highlands. The main centres of population in the province 
are Edinburgh (439,000), Dundee (176,000), Kirkcaldy 
(44,000), Dunfermline (35,000), and Perth (35,000). These 
towns contain about half the population of the province. 
Apart from these large centres, each important for one or 
more industries, there are one or two small industrial areas 
in the province, although none of the towns in them have 
over 20,000 inhabitants. A famous woollen cloth industry 
in the Tweed valley has as its centres Hawick and Galashiels. 
East Lothian, Clackmannan, and Fife have important coal- 
fields, and shale-mining is carried on in West Lothian. The 
estuaries of the Forth and Tay contain a number of sea- 
ports of greater or less importance. 

There is wide diversity of geography and soils in the 
province which largely influences the method of land utili- 
zation. Compared with Scotland as a whole, a large pro- 


portion of the land area is in agricultural use. Only about 
one-quarter of Scotland's area is under cultivation and 
rather more than half the total is mountain and heath 
land used for rough grazing, leaving almost one-quarter 
as waste or in non-agricultural use. In the South-eastern 
Province 38 per cent of the area is under cultivation and 
about 47 per cent is mountain and heath land used as 
rough grazings, leaving 15 per cent as waste or in non- 
agricultural use. Within the province, the proportions of 
cultivated land and rough grazing vary considerably from 
county to county. The proportion of rough grazing, for 
example, varies from as much as four-fifths in Selkirk and 
practically three-quarters in Peebles a sure indication that 
the greater part of these counties can at best be utilized for 
hill sheep-breeding to one-tenth or less in Fife and West 
Lothian, these two counties being unique in Scotland for 
the high proportion of the land in cultivation of crops and 

Of the area under crops and grass in Scotland, roughly 
one-third is in permanent pasture, one-third is under rota- 
tion grasses, and one-third under other crops (grain and 
green crops). Rotation grass usually well managed plays 
an important part in the agricultural economy of this part 
of Scotland, although not so important as in some other 
areas further north ; it may consist of one year's grass, or 
longer leys left down for three or more years, which have 
become increasingly common of late years. 

In what may be regarded as the arable farming districts 
of this province the lower parts of Berwick and Roxburgh, 
of the Lothians, of Fife and Angus the favourable climatic 
conditions usually enjoyed, and the fertility of the soil, 
utilized to the best advantage, lead to the production of 
bountiful crops of grain, potatoes, and hay of good quality, 
considerably heavier than the average crop in Scotland as 
a whole. Over the whole of the province oats is by far the 
most important grain crop, and only in East Lothian is it 


rivalled in extent by either wheat or barley. Wheat pro- 
duction, stimulated by the Wheat Act 1932, is extensively 
undertaken in the Lothians, Fife, Angus, and part of Perth, 
which together produce about three-fourths of the total 
Scottish wheat crop. Good qualities of malting barley are 
grown in East Lothian and in the Merse of Berwickshire, 
but low prices and the greater attraction of wheat growing 
have combined seriously to reduce the barley acreage of late. 

Except in the Border counties potatoes are very exten- 
sively grown and form the farmer's most valuable sales 
crop, so important that potato prices may make or mar the 
financial results of the whole farm. Notwithstanding the 
oscillations in potato prices from year to year, their long 
experience of this crop partly accounts for the farmers' 
reluctance to turn to the production of sugar beet on any 
scale; only in Fife, and to a less extent in East Lothian, is 
it of much importance; and as a result of its disappointingly 
low throughput the future of Scotland's solitary beet factory 
at Cupar is somewhat uncertain. Turnips and swedes are 
extensively grown for winter fodder wherever any arable 
cultivation at all is carried on. 

Even in the arable districts, however, stock-farming forms 
an indispensable enterprise on the vast majority of farms, 
whilst on the higher ground stock-raising becomes the 
farmer's principal objective to the exclusion of all else 
on the hill sheep farm. Although parts of Perth and Angus, 
and of the Border counties are mainly concerned with the 
breeding of cattle, the arable areas are concerned with the 
fattening of cattle, large numbers of cake-fed cattle being 
housed in courts during the winter to convert straw and 
turnips into dung, which is required in liberal quantities 
for the extensive root break. 

Sheep, too, are extensively kept, except in West Lothian 
and Fife, where the proportion of rough grazing land is 
small; in the counties of Selkirk, Peebles, and Roxburgh 
they predominate over cattle to such an extent that they 


may be said to carry the agriculture of those counties on 
their shoulders. 

Whilst dairy farming is not characteristic of this part of 
Scotland, the town dairies of Edinburgh are still a factor 
in the city's milk supply ; dairy farms are to be found in the 
neighbourhood of most towns, although without any marked 
concentration. Dairying is, however, fairly common on 
small farms within the mining districts of West Lothian, 
and on larger arable farms in Fife, Clackmannan, and the 
neighbourhood of Dundee. Dairy farming has been increas- 
ing of late years due partly to the number of small holdings 
recently established by the Department of Agriculture for 
Scotland, and partly to the development of milk production 
on arable farms at the expense of unprofitable cattle feeding, 
in many cases by experienced dairy farmers who have come 
from the West. 

In Scotland as a whole the poultry population doubled 
between 1913 and 1933, and the eastern counties are no 
exception to this; the increase has been common on both 
large and small farms, although in Berwick, Roxburgh, and 
Selkirk the density of fowl population is still low. Well- 
managed poultry flocks now make a substantial contri- 
bution to the farmer's income on many large arable farms. 
Pig-keeping is not widespread, but is increasing since the 
advent of the Pigs Marketing Board. 

Although in common with the rest of Scotland a big 
proportion of the holdings in this province are small family 
farms below 50 acres (partly due to the activities of the 
land settlement branch of the Department during the past 
twenty years) the large farm, run by business-like, en- 
lightened farmers possessing ample capital, combining 
practical experience with the teachings of agricultural 
science, and employing a large permanent staff of men 
and women specialist workers, is more truly representative 
of this part of Scotland. Berwickshire and East Lothian 
stand out particularly in this respect : whereas the average 


size of farms for all Scotland is only 61 6 acres, in Berwick 
it is 187-7 acres, and in East Lothian 167*6 acres, and 
almost as high in other Border counties. Farms of over 
500 acres are common in some parts, and some exceed 
1,000 acres. 

Most farms are let on long leases, generally 14 to 19 years, 
still valued for their security by both laird and tenant, 
although on the expiration of the lease it is not uncommon 
for the tenancy to continue from year to year on "tacit 
relocation." As in England, insecurity under the Holdings 
Acts just after the War was mainly responsible for a marked 
tendency towards occupying-ownership as compared with 
pre-war days, and approximately one-third of the farmers 
now own their farms ; the long-term credit facilities intro- 
duced in 1933 through the Scottish Agricultural Securities 
Corporation have stimulated this movement, besides the 
conversion of existing mortgages to lower rates of interest. 

Farm workers are in almost all cases engaged on long 
hirings at May 28th or November 28th married men for 
1 2 months and single men for 6 months ; it is not unusual 
for a farmer to have a complete change of staff at "the 
term." In the Lothians and the Border counties the single 
men generally live with their own people; further north, 
especially in Angus and Perth, they are usually housed in 
a bothy, a meagrely-furnished hut or apartment where they 
sleep and cook their own meals. The married men live in 
"tied" cottages rent-free many of which have been con- 
siderably improved and renovated recently under the 
facilities enjoyed under the Rural Workers' Housing Act; 
and where from 6 to 12 workers are regularly employed 
the cottages and extensive steading give the farm the 
appearance of a small village. The married worker receives 
a considerable portion of his total remuneration in kind, 
his perquisites often including his cottage rent, and allow- 
ance of milk, potatoes, and oatmeal, which, in all, might 
be worth ^"20-^25 per annum. The staff employed often 


includes a grieve, a cattleman, a shepherd, several plough- 
men, an orraman (odd man), a boy, and one or two women. 
The Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act 1924 does not 
apply to Scotland, wages being fixed by private treaty, to 
some extent influenced by recommendation of the Scottish 
Farm Servants' Union. Owing to low prices, wages fell for 
several years prior to 1936, but are now definitely rising 
again; it is difficult to make an accurate comparison 
between wage rates paid in Scotland and England. At the 
present time a married ploughman's total remuneration is 
computed to be between 338. and 355. a week; cattlemen 
and shepherds, upon whom more responsibility rests, receive 
rather higher wages. 

Farm steadings, more particularly in the arable east, are 
necessarily large, consisting of substantial stone buildings 
which give ample accommodation for stock, crops, and 
implements ; stable room, often provided on the larger farms 
for i o to 12 pairs of horses; cattle courts, partly roofed 
over in the older steadings, but entirely covered in the 
more modern ones, ensuring more economical fattening 
and better conservation of the manurial properties of the 
dung; barns, etc., for the fixed threshing mill and other 
machinery, such as a bruiser, grister, cake-crusher, etc., 
as well as an engine-house for the engine which provides 
motive power; and the usual granaries, straw barns, tool 
sheds, etc. Most of these farms have one or more tractors, 
the fields being large enough and the farms compact enough 
to ensure economic operation, whilst the tractors also often 
do a considerable amount of belt work. There has recently 
been a tendency for farmers to instal electricity in house 
and steading to provide power and light. The impoverish- 
ment of the landowning classes has often caused very 
necessary repairs and maintenance work to be left undone 
over a long period of years, and many farm steadings are 
sadly in need of repair. 

The steading accommodation is generally suitable for the 


size and type of farm, and is much simpler on higher ground 
farms. Hence on even a large hill-sheep farm, there is usually 
nothing beyond a shepherd's cottage for each "hirsel," 
a small cowshed to house the shepherd's cow, an old store 
shed or two, together with the dipper and its adjoining 
u buchts" (pens), whilst there may be a few scattered 
"s tells" to provide a little shelter out on the hills. 

The tenant's capital requirements in this province are 
heavy. On arable and semi-arable farms in the Lothians 
and further north 12 to 14 an acre are required for live 
stock, implements and fixtures, produce, and unexhausted 
improvements, so that a tenant should be able to command 
4,000 for a 3OO-acre farm, to be well-stocked and worked ; 
suburban cropping farms do not require so much. In the 
Border counties, 8 to 10 an acre is invested on. semi- 
arable farms, much depending on the type of farming; 
here, farms are large, and a 400- to 5OO-acre farm would 
require from 4,000 to 5,000. 

Physical features divide the province into four well- 
defined regions, the farming in which may be described in 
greater detail, namely : 

I. Tweedsdale comprising the border counties of Berwick, 

Selkirk, Roxburgh, and Peebles 

II. The Lothians comprising the three counties of East 
Lothian, Mid Lothian, and West Lothian, all bordering 
the south bank of the Firth of Forth 

III. The Fife Peninsula consisting of the counties of Fife, 

Clackmannan, and Kinross, all lying between the 
Firths of Forth and Tay, and 

IV. Angus, north of the Tay, and consisting of the county 

of that name (perhaps more often known as Forfar) 
together with the eastern part of Perthshire, which 
lies in the South-eastern Province. 


This region comprises almost the whole basin drained by the 
river Tweed except the southern portion drained by the 


Till, which lies in England ; together with the Vale of Liddis- 
dale, in the south-west corner of Roxburgh, with its outlet to 
the Solway Firth, which lies outside this basin. The Tweed 
and Teviot and their many tributaries find their source in the 
broad encircling belt of heather-clad hills and fells known 
as the Southern Uplands, which reach a height of 2,7123 feet 
in Broad Law, with the Moorfoot and Lammermuir Hills 
forming its northern bulwark, and the grassy Cheviot Hills 
in the south forming a natural boundary line between 
England and Scotland for a considerable distance. The 
greater part of Tweedsdale consists of a plateau above the 
500 feet contour. 

Passing from east to west, we traverse first the highly 
fertile plain bordering the lower Tweed known as the 
Merse, where the soil consists of drift materials overlying 
the later carboniferous rocks. Beyond the Merse there is a 
gradual ascent from the 30O-feet or 4oo-feet contour to a 
height of about 800 feet, over Old Red Sandstone soils 
an area famed for the quality of its stock. From these uplands 
we pass to the true hill regions which lie west and north, 
composed of the older Silurian rocks, an area where the 
rigours of climate, elevation, and soil combine to make it 
unsuitable for any branch of husbandry except hill sheep 

Rich alike in the kaleidoscopic beauty of their scenery, 
in the wealth of legends concerning the forays of the old- 
time Border reivers, and in the silent majesty of their ruined 
monastic establishments founded centuries ago by the 
monks on many fertile river-sites, the Border vales in these 
modern days confine their attention largely to agriculture. 
Sparsely populated, all four counties have no large industrial 
market at hand for their produce, although organization 
and modern transport are reducing the ill-effects of this 

The principal types of farm are hill sheep farms on the 
high ground, mixed farms at the intermediate levels, and 


arable farms (with stock) on the low ground, although these 
systems of farming shade into one another imperceptibly 
and are closely interdependent economically. 

On the hill sheep farms, many of them "led farms" or 
else run in conjunction with an arable farm, pure Blackface 
or Cheviot flocks are carried, the latter being nearly all 
of the Border type as the larger North Country (or "Caith- 
ness") Cheviots find conditions on these bleak exposed hills 
too hard for them. Living throughout the whole year en- 
tirely on such herbage as they can pick, mainly heather and 
rough grass, except for the valuable "draw-moss" not in- 
frequently found during spring in the moister parts of the 
hills, these breeds are economically run in large flocks; 
and only in extreme weather conditions are small quantities 
of "bog hay," made by the shepherd during the summer, 
doled out to them, rather grudgingly, whilst the feeding 
of concentrates only occurs very rarely. 

Selling off their cast ewes in the autumn, as 3, 4, or 5 
crop, and such ewe lambs as are not required for main- 
taining their own flock, in addition to wedder lambs and 
wool, these hill farms mainly act as a reservoir of supplies 
of breeding stock to farms at lower altitudes. 

On farms at intermediate levels some arable crops may 
be grown mainly oats and turnips to provide winter keep 
for the stock. Although there are wide variations in systems 
of management and organization, broadly speaking, Cheviot 
flocks may again be kept pure as on the hill farms, or 
else crossed with a Border-Leicester ram to provide the 
popular Scottish Half-bred sheep, much in demand both 
for breeding and for fattening on turnips. Pure Blackface 
flocks, too, may be kept or crossed with a Border-Leicester 
tup to produce Greyface stock, not quite so heavy as the 
Half-bred which it threatened to displace for a while, 
requiring a smaller root-break and producing the smaller 
carcase weights much in demand ; but just lately farmers 
have shown a tendency to revert to the Half-bred. On these 


high-ground farms, which frequently have quite an extensive 
area of hill land, many farmers maintain a herd of breeding 
cows (which incidentally have a very beneficial effect on 
the grazings). Generally the thrifty and hardy Galloway, 
which runs out of doors all the year round with the minimum 
of feeding, is kept and crossed with a White Shorthorn bull 
to produce blue-grey calves usually sold as stores at the 
special suckled-calf sales held annually at Newtown St. 
Boswells, Hawick, Newcastleton, and Reston in October. 

On the semi-arable farms lower down the Tweed Valley, 
and in the Merse, the growing of crops for sale becomes 
important, especially wheat, barley, and oats; only small 
acreages of potatoes are grown usually just sufficient to 
provide for the farmer's own family and for the labourers' 
perquisites, the difficulty of securing sufficient casual labour 
for planting and lifting tending to limit its extensive culti- 
vation as a sales crop, although a few farmers grow bigger 
acreages, notably men who hail from the West. Of late 
years there has been an increase in the acreage of temporary 
pasture, the old four-course rotation being lengthened by 
putting land down to grass for two, three, or four years; 
and this fact, together with its improved quality arising 
from the use of white wild clover in the grass seeds mix- 
tures, causes grain crops (usually oats) taken after lea to 
lodge, besides impairing the quality of barley. 

Sheep, however, still play a very important part on these 
farms. Where sufficient ground is available, a Half-bred 
ewe flock is generally carried, which may be maintained 
by the purchase of either ewe lambs or gimmers (shearling 
ewes) from the higher ground farms; these are crossed by 
either Oxford or Suffolk tups to produce the early-maturing, 
blocky type of lamb favoured by the butchers. Elsewhere, 
only feeding hoggs are carried, bought in in the early 
autumn to run on the foggage and, later, on the turnips. 
Of late years low grain and cattle prices have caused many 
of these farmers to stock up their ground more thickly with 


sheep, building up heavy stocks of breeding ewes in addition 
to their feeding hoggs, and much land has become "sheep- 
sick" owing to worm infestation. 

On most of these semi-arable farms cattle are also kept. 
On the higher ground, herds of Shorthorn or Cross cows 
are kept, run with an Aberdeen-Angus bull, the calves 
either being sold at weaning or pushed on quickly to the 
baby beef stage. Elsewhere feeding cattle only are carried, 
Irish or English store cattle being bought in big numbers 
for court feeding. A succession of bad turnip seasons has 
led to an extension of the cultivation of kale as a substitute, 
but it does not yet find much favour with cattle feeders. 
Milk production in this region is solely confined to meeting 
local requirements. 

The autumn sheep sales at St. Boswells, Hawick, and 
Reston, models of up-to-date organization, have now be- 
come an indispensable adjunct of Border sheep farming. 
Commencing in July, these auction marts handle in the 
course of the next three months something like 500,000 
sheep which are assembled from farms mostly situated in 
parts of the Tweed basin, and disposed of to breeders and 
feeders lower down the valley, and to others hailing from 
places as far apart as Angus and the Midlands of England. 
The sheep sold consist of: store lambs for feeding Cross 
Oxford, Cross Suffolk, and Half-bred lambs, and Cheviot 
wedders ; ewe lambs for breeding Half-bred and Cheviot ; 
cast ewes for breeding Half-bred and Cheviot (3 or 4 crop 
ewes). In addition there are annual ram sales at Kelso and 
Hawick, at which are exposed first-class rams of all breeds of 
interest locally, and which attract buyers and sellers from a 
wide area. 


The Lothians, bordered on the north by the Firth of Forth, 
consist of a narrow coastal plain rising to the Lammermuirs, 


the Moorfoots, and the Pentlands, which, though barely 
reaching a height of 2,000 feet above sea-level, form an 
almost continuous barrier of bleak inhospitable hill country 
which was only effectively pierced with the advent of the 
railway age, and even yet makes road communication a 
matter of some difficulty in winter. Geologically, most of 
the soils are of carboniferous origin, although numerous 
volcanic intrusions form prominent landmarks near Edin- 
burgh. Coal is worked in a small area east of Edinburgh, 
whilst oil shale bings are a familiar feature of the landscape 
in parts of West Lothian. Apart from the fact that here and 
there along the coast are raised beaches and blown sands 
highly valuable market garden areas the transition to 
the old Silurian rocks of the hills is not dissimilar to that 
of the Tweed basin ; although in the East, where the plain 
widens out considerably, we have the fertile red soils of 
Dunbar derived from Old Red Sandstone rocks. In West 
Lothian strong clay loams are common ; east of Edinburgh 
light soils prevail, the whole area being noted for the high 
standard of its arable farming, in good times and bad, 
unsurpassed in Britain. 

Known traditionally as "The Garden of Scotland," the 
Lothians form one of the most favoured, most productive, 
and most highly-rented parts of agricultural Britain, more 
particularly on the lower coastal belt situated east of Edin- 
burgh. Running up to the higher ground approaching the 
Lammermuirs and the Moorfoots the farming is semi-arable in 
character, differing little from that in corresponding districts 
on the south side of those hills in the Tweed Valley, whilst in 
the mining districts of West Lothian there is much poor land. 

Otherwise, for the most part, farms are intensively worked 
with many variations of late years on the typical East 
Lothian six-course rotation, viz. grass, oats, potatoes, wheat, 
turnips, barley which is associated with the winter feed- 
ing of cattle and sheep. The whole of the potato crop, 
the wheat crop, and barley crop is sold off, together with 


considerable quantities of hay and oats, the fertility of the 
soil being maintained by liberal dressings of dung and 
artificial manures. Heavy crops of potatoes are grown 
Kerr's Pink, Golden Wonder, and Great Scot being the 
most popular varieties and yields of 12 tons per acre are 
not uncommon. Dunbar red-soil potatoes command a sub- 
stantial premium in the market. East of Edinburgh is one 
of the most important early potato growing districts of 
Scotland favoured by a light sandy soil, a sheltered situa- 
tion, and equable climate unmarred by late frosts, and easy 
access to an excellent market; Epicures are the principal 
early variety, in some favoured districts grown on the 
same ground year after year. Generally the early potatoes 
are followed by a catch crop such as rape or Italian rye 

Between North Berwick and Edinburgh, market garden- 
ing has long been carried on on the light lands skirting the 
coast ; more recently there has been an expansion of this 
type of cultivation on several arable farms. 

The town dairies of Edinburgh are a peculiarity of this 
region. Large herds of Ayrshires and cross cows, bought in 
newly-calved, are housed and stall-fed throughout the year, 
to supply warm milk which was formerly much in demand 
in the city. The city dairymen are heavy feeders of concen- 
trates, and buy in all their requirements of turnips, grass, 
and straw from local suburban cropping farms, to whom 
also the dung is sold. They are thus closely linked with 
these suburban cropping farms, which are usually very 
highly-rented farms carrying no live stock other than work- 
horses (except possibly a few breeding sows), and worked 
on a four-course shift hay, oats, roots, wheat all these 
crops being sold off. The town dairies, however, are of 
diminishing importance, their decline being associated with 
the competition of more-cheaply produced pasteurized milk 
from the South-west of Scotland which now forms the bulk 
of the city's milk supply, with the tightening of health 


regulations, and with the growth of dairying in outlying 
farms following the development of motor transport, whilst 
the era of flat-rate prices for milk associated with the advent 
of the Scottish Milk Marketing Board will probably hasten 
their end. In the circumstances, the suburban cropping 
farms are of declining importance, whilst building activities 
in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh are also steadily en- 
croaching on them. Meantime many of them keep herds of 
Large White sows for breeding purposes, the weaners being 
sold to specialized feeders in Edinburgh. Both breeders and 
feeders are large purchasers of dreg from the city breweries, 
and of hotel waste. 

The Edinburgh market serves the whole of this area, but 
Haddington market is popular with East Lothian farmers. 


The Fife Peninsula is an uneven plain with a natural slope 
towards the east and south broken by the Cleish and Lomond 
Hills, and hemmed in on the west by the imposing massif 
of the Ochil Hills which rise sheer from the surrounding 
plain with surprising suddenness, to reach a height of 
2,343 feet in Ben Cleuch, their ramparts being cleft by 
numerous deep and beautiful glens. Geologically the features 
of the Peninsula are comparatively simple : the Ochils and 
their easterly spur flanking the north coast of Fife as far as 
Tayport consisting of igneous rocks, bordered by a belt of 
Old Red Sandstone; east and south, occupying the greater 
part of Fife and Clackmannan, are carboniferous limestone 
formations, whilst raised beaches occur in the extreme 
north-east. Coal mines, though distributed over a wider 
area than in the Lothians, are confined to a triangular 
area between Leven and Kirkcaldy, to villages around 
Cowdenbeath in West Fife, and to the neighbourhood of 
Alloa (Clackmannan). Agriculturally, this region does not 
differ greatly from the Lothians. 


The ancient "Kingdom of Fife" has been aptly described 
as "a beggar's mantle fringed with gold" a happy allusion 
to its fertile coastal belt and the number of thriving little 
seaports and industrial villages along its shores, which make 
East Fife one of the best markets of Scotland. "But hard 
work, long continued, has wrought wonders with the 
interior," and to-day, apart from one or two pockets of 
poor soil, the whole of Fife consists of good land well- 
farmed, the best soils and farms being on the east of Fife. 
In the main the system of farming follows the customary 
lines of farming in the Lothians, embracing the produc- 
tion of potatoes and grain for sale, combined with the 
fattening of cattle and sheep, Cupar being their principal 

Farms are not so uniformly big in this area, however, 
and the absence of any distinct cleavage between the small 
farms and the large farms such as occurs in the Lothians 
makes for more mobility amongst the farming community. 
Many farmers to-day run both an arable farm and a hill 
farm for raising store stock the latter often some distance 
away. This practice is facilitated in Kinross where many 
of the arable farms have a run of hill land attached to them. 
Hemmed in by the Ochill Hills, the Cleish Hills, and the 
Lomond Hills, the farmers of this area concentrate on the 
breeding and rearing of cattle from Shorthorn cows with 
an Aberdeen-Angus bull, and of sheep either Blackface 
or Greyface stock for which they have a local market 
at Milnathort; some dairying too is carried on, whilst the 
peaty soils around Loch Leven are used to advantage for 
the production of seed potatoes. In the neighbouring county 
of Clackmannan, also, the Ochill Hills are extensively used 
for flocks of Blackface sheep. A number of arable farms 
carry dairy herds, supplying milk to local consumers' co- 
operative societies, the local industrial population providing 
a good outlet. Farmers in this district have ready access to 
the excellent live stock mart at Stirling. 



Angus (Forfar) and East Perth, lying west and north of the 
Firth of Tay, are drained mainly by the Tay and its tribu- 
taries, chief of which are the Earn and the Isla. Occupying 
the greater part of the interior of these counties, is the great 
Highland mass of the Grampians running north-east and 
south-west, gashed in the east by the remote and lovely 
Braes of Angus, and pierced further west by beautiful glens 
which are now utilized to form easy routes to their more 
accessible and well-known beauty spots such as The Tros- 
sachs. With vast stretches used solely for deer-forests, the 
barren wilderness of the Grampians effectively limits the 
area capable of utilization for agriculture, which is still 
further curtailed by the Sidlaw Hills running roughly 
parallel to them. 

Otherwise this region is occupied by three well-defined 
and fertile straths (valleys) Strathmore running north-east 
from the River Earn throughout the whole of Angus, with 
its continuation of the Howe of the Mearns running north- 
eastwards to the coast at Stonehaven ; Strathearn, bordering 
the River Earn, and the Carse of Gowrie between the 
Sidlaws and the Firth of Tay. 

Geologically, the region consists of the hard granitic, 
pre-Cambrian rocks of the Grampians; the igneous rocks 
of the Sidlaws, and the reddish soils of the Old Red 
Sandstone type on the lower ground. Agriculture in this 
region too is mainly arable again very progressive 
although live stock farming features more prominently than 
in Fife and the Lothians. 

In broad outline, the agriculture of Angus and East 
Perth is not unlike that of the Lothians (excluding the 
more favoured market gardening and early potato-raising 
districts of East Lothian), though differing from them in 
the greater concentration on live stock rearing and feeding, 
and in their remoteness from markets a disadvantage 


which would be greatly reduced by the construction of 
road bridges across the Firths of Tay and Forth, both of 
which are now being strongly advocated. 

In the foothills of the Grampians below the regions set 
aside for deer-forests, and in the Sidlaw Hills, hill sheep 
farming is carried on much on the same lines as in the 
Borders, preference again being given to the Blackface, 
run in flocks renowned for their hardiness and health. 
Lower down, the Blackface ewe may be crossed with a 
Border-Leicester tup; whilst on the arable farms at still 
lower levels, which normally only fatten off hoggs on 
turnips, many men have lately been keeping flocks of 
breeding ewes either Half-bred or Greyface run mostly 
with Suffolk and Oxford tups for early fat lamb production. 

This area is more concerned, however, with cattle than 
with sheep, for from the remote farms and crofts in the 
glens of the Grampians come large supplies of store cattle 
Aberdeen-Angus bought up at the special sales at Aber- 
feldy and Blairgowrie by the feeders who specialize in 
finishing off in courts prime, high-quality home-bred cattle. 
As elsewhere, Irish cattle, too, are fattened in courts. 

In the lowlands, the fertile vale of Strathmore produces 
a pleasing picture large farms, substantial farmhouses and 
steadings, large well-ordered fields producing heavy crops 
of wheat, oats, and potatoes. Angus is especially noted for 
its production of potatoes both seed and ware particu- 
larly Majesties, in which yields of as much as 14 tons per 
acre are sometimes lifted, much of the crop being dispatched 
by sea to the English market from Arbroath and Montrose. 
In addition to an extensive trade in seed potatoes with 
England, seed is sent abroad to countries such as Spain, 
the Canaries, and South Africa. Perthshire also is a large 
grower of seed potatoes. 

In the Carse of Cowrie, where the soil is a heavy alluvial 
clay, excellent crops of wheat and beans are grown. Owing 
to the difficulty of growing roots for cattle feeding, silage is 


now grown on a number of farms, and silos form quite a 
feature of the landscape. Good fruit crops also are common 
here, whilst reeds, growing on the banks of the Tay, prove 
valuable for thatching materials. 

As in the south, the big farms of Perth and Angus require 
ample stable room for their many work horses, whilst most 
of them now find a tractor indispensable. The Angus 
ploughman is renowned for his skill and industry, and is 
paid rather higher wages than in most other counties, being 
deemed well worthy of his hire. 

One peculiar feature of agriculture in this region is the 
extensive cultivation of raspberries in the neighbourhood 
of Blairgowrie, and to a less extent near Montrose and 
Forfar. A prominent firm of preserve manufacturers has 
played a leading part in the establishment of this industry, 
which is still expanding. 

The area is well served by two important cattle markets 
Perth and Dundee together with smaller markets at 
Forfar and Arbroath. 

Chapter XV 

The West and South-West of Scotland 





West of Scotland Agricultural College , Glasgow 



The West and South- West of Scotland 

THE province of South-west Scotland consists of ten counties 
and the western district of Perthshire. It occupies about 
one-third of the land area of Scotland and follows the west 
coast from the Solway Firth and the English border to the 
northern boundary of Argyllshire. On the east, it adjoins 
the province of South-east Scotland. The counties included 
are Argyll, the western part of Perthshire, Dunbarton, 
Stirling, Lanark, Renfrew, Bute, Ayr, Wigtown, Kirkcud- 
bright, and Dumfries. 

The province has within its boundaries the great industrial 
belt of Scotland, with Glasgow and its population of over 
one million inhabitants as its centre. Spreading round 
Glasgow are coal-mining villages, iron and steel towns, 
shipbuilding yards on the Clyde, and everywhere within 
a radius of from 15 to 30 miles small towns have grown 
round furniture-making, cotton spinning, lace, other tex- 
tiles, and a number of other industries. Over half the whole 
population of Scotland is within the five counties adjacent 
to Glasgow. The density of population in the counties 
in the province varies from about 3 persons per acre in 
Lanarkshire to 3 per 100 acres in Argyllshire. Other refer- 
ences to the industrial population will be made in the 
description of the various regions within the province. 

Much of the land surface of Scotland is classified in the 
agricultural returns as "mountain and moor land used for 
grazing." This province contains about one-third of the 
total area so classified, while its share of the Scottish acreage 
of "land under crops and grass" is again approximately 
one-third. In relation to all Scotland, however, the province 
contains only one-quarter of the arable land, while it 
grows only 13 per cent of the wheat, 2 per cent of the 


barley, 2 per cent of the sugar beet, and 24 per cent of the 
potatoes. The acreage under oats and turnips is also low 
in comparison with the other provinces. On the other hand, 
within the province is one-half of Scotland's permanent 
grass, and about 40 per cent of the cattle, sheep, pigs, and 
poultry in the country as a whole. Complete land utilization 
figures are not available, but mountain and moorland 
grazings (excluding those stocked only with deer) make up 
60 per cent of the land surface ; another 25 per cent is land 
under crops and grass ; deer forests carrying no agricultural 
stock account for 3 per cent, while the remainder is planted 
and cut-over forest land, waste land, and urban districts. 

A rapid glance at the map is sufficient to indicate the 
extensive area lying above the 4OO-foot contour line. A 
very large part of west Perth, Dunbarton, Argyll, and Bute 
is hill country, varying somewhat in "roughness" according 
to locality. Argyll, West Perth, and Bute have only 5 per 
cent, 15 per cent, and 18 per cent of their total land area 
returned as under crops and grass. The north-west corner 
of Stirlingshire is similar, while an intrusive mass of high 
ground is found in the centre of this county. Between the 
Clyde and the Solway there are large areas of hill land, 
more kindly on the whole than in the areas already dealt 
with, but in parts of Kirkcudbright closely resembling those 
of the Highlands. For the province it may be said that the 
areas of cultivation are confined to coastal plains, river 
valleys, strathlands, and the lower uplands of hill districts. 
Rainfall is generally high, definitely so as compared with 
conditions ruling in the East of Scotland. Wet westerly 
winds prevail and lack of sunshine is marked, particularly 
in the Highland region. Over the major part of Argyll and 
in the hill country of Bute, Dunbarton, Stirling, and West 
Perth, 50 to 60 inches per annum is not uncommon. This, 
combined with the naturally heavy soils and contour 
explains the mainly pastoral activities of these areas. In 
the strathlands of West Perth and the river valleys of the 


Forth and Clyde, and the coastal plains and low-ground 
districts of Ayrshire, conditions are more favourable to 
cultivation. Rainfall varies from some 30 inches on the 
lowlands to upwards of 50 inches near the hills. Lying 
within the counties of Lanark, Ayr, Dumfries, Kirkcud- 
bright, and Wigtown is the area of hill and moor later 
termed the Southern Uplands district, where rainfall is 
often well over 60 inches per annum and cultivation almost 
absent. In the remaining part of the province, which con- 
sists of practically all Wigtownshire and the river valleys 
and coastal districts of Kirkcudbright and Dumfries, there 
are considerable variations within a rainfall range of from 
30 to 50 inches per annum. Parts of Wigtown and Dumfries 
have a lower than average rainfall, and this district is more 
favourably situated as regards soil and climate than many 
of the more northerly parts of the province. 

Considered as a whole, the low grounds of the province 
are mainly concerned with the production of milk for liquid 
sale. Poultry, kept for commercial egg production, may be 
regarded as the second enterprise, especially in the area 
close to the industrial centres. Hill and park sheep are 
everywhere kept. The income of the province is mainly 
derived from the sale of these products. Wheat is relatively 
unimportant, barley is almost absent, but the oat crop, 
grown principally for stock-feeding, is widespread; the 
straw being of high feeding value. Hay, often as Timothy 
meadows on the heavier soils, is extensively cut. Silage is 
of very minor importance. With the exception of the South- 
western region turnips and swedes are not nearly so 
important as in other parts of Scotland, Small acreages 
of marrow-stem kale are now grown on most farms, and the 
practice is spreading. Potatoes are of varying importance, 
but sugar beet is confined to small acreages in favoured 
districts. There are no extensive areas of vegetable produc- 
tion, but a part of the Clyde valley is noted for fruit and 
glasshouse produce. 


The system of land tenure is still that of landlord and 
tenant and, even with the increase since the War, no county 
has more than 40 per cent of the farming area farmed by 
owner-occupiers. The most typical size of farm in and 
around the industrial belt is from 100 to 150 acres, but in 
the south-west of the province the typical farm is definitely 
larger. Farms under 50 acres, as elsewhere, are of varying 
importance. In Argyllshire the crofting system exists, and 
there has been elsewhere an extension of State-estab- 
lished small holdings ; of the larger sizes in Dumfries, and 
from 5 to 10 acres in the industrial counties. In the hill 
districts there are sheep farms running to several thousand 

The manual labour of the farmer and family labour are 
important over the large part of the province, but farms 
with some wage-paid labour are much more common than 
the purely family farm. The majority of regular wage-paid 
workers live on the farms, either in cottages or, in the case 
of single men, in the farmhouse or bothies. Half-yearly or 
yearly hirings are the rule for the regular workers, and 
money wages are at a higher level in and around the indus- 
trial belt. Payment in kind for married skilled workers 
is a not inconsiderable part of the earnings, especially in 
the non-industrial regions. The employment of families at 
a combined wage is found on many of the larger dairy 
farms. A system of labour, intermediate between master 
and man, exists in the "bower system," found mainly in 
Kirkcudbright, where the "bower" in effect hires the dairy 
herd from the farmer on a rental basis. 

Motor transport for long and intermediate road haulage 
is now universal, but short-distance road work and field 
operations are largely performed by horse labour. Tractors 
have increased where conditions are favourable. Mechanical 
milking is of greatest relative importance among the larger 
cow-herds of the south-west, but scarcity of suitable labour 
is hastening its adoption in the inlying counties. A survey 


to gauge the extent of machine-milking among milk- 
recorded herds showed that, in 1934, Dumfries, Kirkcud- 
bright, Wigtown, and the Kintyre district of Argyll had 
about 30-35 per cent of the cows milked by machine; 
comparable figures for the shires of Ayr, Lanark, Renfrew, 
Dunbarton, and Bute being 8 per cent. 

From the physical features it is possible to divide the 
province roughly into seven regions. The boundaries of the 
regions, as shown on the map, by no means indicate a 
hard-and-fast demarcation. Regions shade off into one 
another and within each region are many districts which 
have different features from one another. 

The regions are as follows : 

I. The Highland Region 

II. West Perthshire and Stirlingshire 

III. Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire 

IV. Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire 
V. Coastal and Central Ayrshire 

VI. The Southern Uplands 
VII. The South-west Region 


Argyll, part of Bute, and the hill country of Dunbarton, 
Stirling, and West Perth are included in this region. North 
of the rivers Forth and Teith in Stirlingshire and West 
Perth and rising behind Strathallan and Strathearn lie the 
escarpments of the Grampian hills. The striking contrast 
in geographical features between lowland and highland in 
this part is denoted by the old saying that "Forth bridles 
the wild Highlandman." Away to the westward all of this 
district, until it meets the islands and the long sea lochs of 
Argyll, contains the southerly fringe of the Grampians. 
Glen and ben, inland loch and sea loch, and stretches of 
moor and machar land all combine to produce the famous 
scenic beauty of these parts. The whole region is sparsely 


populated, and towns or villages nowhere show any marked 
development. The main non-agricultural activities are 
fishing, quarrying, some distilling, game preservation, and 
catering for the tourist trade; the principal towns now 
depending largely on the latter during a comparatively 
short season. 

The main agricultural feature of the region is the impor- 
tance of hill sheep farming with which there is sometimes 
combined a measure of cattle-rearing. As the hill sheep 
farming is run on comparable lines throughout the whole 
of this area, a general description will suffice, much of 
which will also apply to the practice in the Southern 
Uplands and hill districts elsewhere. 

This type of extensive farming began in the late eighteenth 
or early nineteenth century when lowland sheep-owners 
replaced the native population which had depended on 
subsistence cropping and the sale of cattle. Except for 
minor changes, the practice has remained fundamentally 
the same since its inauguration. Ewe-stocks are almost 
wholly of the Blackface breed and the ram is generally 
Blackface, but the Border-Leicester-Blackface cross is com- 
mon on many of the kindlier hills. Usually only small areas 
of arable or low-ground pasture are attached to each hill 
farm, but tenancy of a low-ground farm and adjacent hill 
farm is common. Hand-feeding of the hill ewes is seldom 
resorted to and from hill grasses, heather, and moss plants 
they draw their whole sustenance. Lambing commences 
in April, and where the available hired or family labour is 
insufficient, extra lambers are employed. By late August 
or early September the "tops" are being marketed. Graz- 
ings vary greatly in their capacity for finishing, and a large 
proportion of the lambs, when sold, go to low-ground farms 
for further keep on arable or grassland. September sees the 
peak of the hill-lamb sales and about October the old cast 
ewes are drafted out, many to be purchased by low-ground 
farmers for crossing. The ewe-stocks are generally main- 


tained by home-bred lambs, which are, however, almost 
invariably wintered away; the grazing of these "ewe- 
hoggs" proving a source of income to many dairy and 
grazing farms. This wintering period usually runs from 
October until April, but a further * 'springing" until May 
is sometimes adopted. This "wintering," especially since 
the advent of motor haulage, is often at a considerable 
distance from the home hill. 

All handling is done at large gatherings, which are often 
conducted on a basis of mutual help. The first clippings 
are those of the hoggs and eild ewes followed by the main 
ewe-clipping at a somewhat later date according to the 
"rise" in the old wool. Blackface wool is used for the coarser 
textile manufactures, mainly carpets, and much of it is 
exported, formerly to Italy and now mainly to the United 
States of America. The difficulties against which the hillman 
has to contend are many, but inoculation and other treat- 
ments against disease, such as braxy and louping-ill, are a 
growing practice. The spread of the bracken is everywhere 
causing concern, partly on account of its invasion of good 
grazing areas and partly because of the increased difficulty 
of herding, especially when sheep are ill or struck by maggot- 

To the broad classification of this region as one engaged 
in hill sheep farming there are, however, notable exceptions. 
In the vicinity of towns and villages dairying is carried on, 
usually by producer-retailers. The dairy farms of the Cowal 
district of Argyll cater for the demands of the holiday 
resorts on the sea-coast. In Kintyre, dairying is found over 
an important area. By far the largest stretch of "good" 
land on the mainland of Argyll lies in the southern half of 
the peninsula of Kintyre. Situated remote from industrial 
markets, this region developed as a farm cheese-making 
district, but gradually a change-over in selling milk to the 
local creamery at Campbeltown has taken place. Between 
1922 and 1935 the number of cheese-making farms declined 


by half. Milk production, except on producing-retailing 
farms, is mainly seasonal ; cows calving from mid-February 
on to the end of March. There is, however, some increase 
in winter-milk production in the area, and also a tendency 
on some farms to shorten the cheese-making season by 
delaying the start of manufacture until the "fodder-cheese" 
period is over. Cropping practice is largely similar to that 
in the peninsular part of Wigtownshire, the rotation being 
shorter than is usual in Lanark, Dunbarton, Renfrew, and 
Ayr. The common rotation here is lea oats, roots, oats, 
bere or barley with grass seeds, hay and two or three years' 
pasture. Barley was a favourite nurse crop for the seeds, 
being formerly an important cash crop sold to the dis- 
tilleries in the area, but now, since the number of these in 
operation has very markedly declined, oats have tended to 
take the place of barley. Hay is not here so important as 
in other parts of the province where the rotation is longer 
and for a large part of the winter, when milk production 
on the seasonal farms is at its lowest, roots and straw form 
the basal ration. Little or no Timothy hay is grown. Rela- 
tively little potato-growing is done about one acre per 
farm may be considered a fair average and comparatively 
few farms make a speciality of the crop. The common cross 
among low-ground sheep flocks is the Border-Leicester ram 
and Blackface ewe, with other crosses definitely much less 

On some of the islands off the coast of Argyll, notably in 
Islay, farms organized towards cheese-making are to be 
found, but these are now much declined in number from 
the immediate post-war years, partly because of labour and 
transport difficulties and partly on account of market con- 
ditions for the product in an area remote and outwith the 
operation of the Scottish Milk Marketing Board. Conditions 
on the other islands vary. In the island of Mull, hill sheep 
and deer are numerically most important. The island of 
Tiree, once an important source of grain to the Columbian 


monks in lona, has soils where barley can successfully be 
grown. Lying in the Clyde estuary and sheltered to the 
west by Kintyre and Cowal, the islands of Arran and Bute 
depend mainly on agriculture and holiday traffic. On the 
lower grounds of Arran, milk and egg production and a 
small development of early potato-growing typify the farm- 
ing, while there is a large export of hill-sheep. The northern 
highland part of Bute is given over to sheep, with milk pro- 
duction, for sale or export, on the lower slopes. The southern 
part of this island, by reason of lighter soils, lower elevation, 
and equable climate, is farmed in a manner closely similar 
to that found in the adjacent coastal districts of Ayrshire. 
Liquid-milk production, partly to meet the demands of the 
island's holiday resorts, is the main feature of the farming, 
and the concentration of poultry is high. There is some 
development of early potato growing. 

From the whole of this region, particularly so as regards 
the dairying districts, there is an export of cattle to main- 
land or central markets. Calving heifers and other milk 
stock are exported from Kintyre, Bute, and other districts. 
Older calves and stores, drawn from the crofting, low- 
ground and hill farms, are collected by means of local 
sales in spring and autumn ultimately to be exported with- 
out the area. Cattle-fattening is carried on only in small 
unimportant areas. Argyll was at one time a noted source 
of stores of the native Highland breed, huge numbers of 
which used annually to be sold at Crieff market and Falkirk 
tryst; many to be fattened on the pastures of Southern 
England. This breed is now greatly diminished in numbers, 
but is still found in the more remote districts of the country, 
while a cross with the Shorthorn is common. In the dairying 
districts of Cowal, Bute, and Kintyre the Ayrshire pre- 
dominates, but Shorthorn, Shorthorn crosses, and Aberdeen- 
Angus crosses are relatively more important towards the 
east of this district. 



The hill-country lying in the north and west of Western 
Perthshire and Stirlingshire has been included in the High- 
land district already described. There remains the low 
country of Strathearn, Strathallan, the Teith and Forth 
valleys, and two upland districts. These latter, of which one 
is the western slopes of the Ochil hills and the other is made 
up by a continuous area, known according to locality as 
the Gargunnock, Kilsyth, and Campsie hills, may be dis- 
missed by the statement that the hill sheep farming, which 
is the only activity on the higher slopes, is in organization 
and practice similar to that described in the Highlands 
region. On account of lower elevation and more gentle 
contours, conditions are, however, generally more favour- 
able than in the former district and the Border-Leicester- 
Blackface cross relatively more common. 

Even within this region some marked differences are 
found, and an itinerary in a south-western direction will 
illustrate them. In the north-east corner, that is, from about 
Dunblane to the boundary of the province, in an area 
mainly rural but within moderately easy reach of large 
urban centres lying to the east and south, the farming takes 
on many of the features of the arable districts of East Scot- 
land, being in fact, a transition area between west and east. 
Arable crops are important and cattle-rearing and feeding 
low-ground sheep flocks, and some producer-retailer dairy- 
ing are the main enterprises. The usual rotation is a five 
or six shift, with oats, greencrop, oats, one year's hay and 
two years' pasture. The lower slopes and glens of the Gram- 
pians provide a satisfactory environment for producing 
healthy stocks of seed potatoes, and this branch is important 
in Western Perthshire. Many varieties are grown almost 
wholly for the English seed potato trade, and an area lying 
north-east from Greenloaning has a special reputation in 
this connection. This Western Perthshire area is also an 


important stock district. From noted herds come Scots 
Beef Shorthorns and Aberdeen- Angus which, sold at the 
annual bull sales at Perth, are exported to all parts of the 
world. These breeds and their crosses are most common in 
this locality. Commercial cattle are fattened in Strathearn, 
Strathallan, and the Forth valley, but recent years have 
seen some decline of this branch in the last two localities 
on account of the spread of dairying. Many farms have 
ewe-flocks and there is some sheep-fattening on turnips. 
The Border-Leicester-Blackface cross is most common. The 
westerly fringes of the Perthshire raspberry growing dis- 
tricts extend into this district. 

Southwards, Strathallan opens out into the wide valley 
of the Forth, with the town of Stirling as the centre. Lying 
south-east and west of the town is a stretch of heavy clay 
carseland, level and at a low elevation. The extremely 
tenacious clay soil gives special features to the farming. 
Wheat, oats, beans, or a mixture of oats and beans as 
"mashlum" have their place in the rotation, but the area 
under roots is small, and except where some "dryfield" land 
is available, the potato crop is negligible. Timothy hay is 
a very important cash crop, and the district is the chief 
Scottish producer of Timothy seed. Some of the farms in 
this locality produce milk, mainly for sale wholesale, others 
have dairy and beef cattle, while the remainder rear and/or 
feed and are non-dairying. Here again the tendency of the 
post-war years has been towards an increased dependence 
on milk-production. Many of the herds are maintained by 

Going towards the west from Stirling and after circling 
the northern base of the Gargunnock hills, the main road 
forks, to lead either westwards into the Highland parts or 
south-west until Dunbartonshire is reached. The former 
route skirts the large peaty tract known as Flanders Moss, 
once the scene of reclamations carried out by small "im- 
proving" tenants known as "moss-lairds." The latter route 


passes through the largely wholesale dairying area of 
Strathendrick. Potato-growing is of some importance here. 
Practically all this area is mainly rural, but there are many 
small towns in West Stirlingshire and the region is situated 
conveniently to Glasgow and its northern environs. 

The remaining parts of this district lie south and south- 
west of the town of Stirling, between which and Falkirk is 
an important industrial area, depending chiefly on coal 
and the manufacture of light castings, and in close proximity 
to the shipping and dockyard town of Grangemouth. South- 
wards from Stirling to Falkirk shows a merging of the 
"carse" type into farming with more emphasis on grassland 
and milk production, but some of the intermediate localities 
have more arable land than is common further west and 
the potato crop plays an important part. South of Falkirk 
lies an area of cold upland at about 500 to 600 feet above 
sea-level, which, on account of its being part of a locality 
extending into Lanarkshire, is dealt with later. 


Within this region is situated the major part of the Scottish 
industrial belt, centring on the city of Glasgow. The most 
easterly part of the region links up with the south-east 
boundary of the previous region. South of Falkirk and west 
towards Glasgow is an upland area, much of which lies on 
coal measures and contains many mining villages. The most 
common farming type, in a locality containing a large 
acreage of rough grass or moor and with a high annual 
rainfall, is a small type of dairy-farm, where cropping is at 
a minimum and the milk produced is often sold retail. 
Poultry begin to be important. Towards the south conditions 
improve somewhat. Going westwards and passing along the 
base of the Kilsyth hills, this locality shades off into the 
eastern district of Dunbartonshire, and then into the low- 
lying part of this county which borders on the Clyde. Over 


this stretch wholesale and retail milk-selling is the main 
source of income, but poultry on small holdings and specialist 
poultry holdings and on the general farm are important. 
The potato crop takes a greater place in the rotation and 
the lighter soils of the Cardross district offer scope for the 
earlier crops. 

Lanarkshire shares with Renfrew and Dunbarton the 
distinction of belonging to the older established liquid-milk 
counties of the province. The lower lands of Lanarkshire 
lying along the Clyde valley show considerable diversion in 
farming enterprises. Close to the city in the north, east, and 
south-east there is some development of arable farming 
with wheat, potatoes, and hay as cash crops, also a measure 
of market gardening and rhubarb-growing, while dairying 
is everywhere found. The intervening district between this 
and the upland area already described shows a gradual 
transition in type with grassland and the home-rearing of 
dairy stock becoming more important. The large and small 
industrial centres in this region afford outlets for milk, eggs, 
and potatoes. 

To the south-east of Glasgow Lanarkshire stretches back 
to the hill areas of the Southern Upland district. The main 
farming activity is the production of milk for sale wholesale. 
Long rotations, the commonest being oats, greencrop, oats, 
hay, and a varying number of years' pasture, and the 
maintenance of herds by rearing, are typical features. The 
acreage under potatoes is usually small. On some of the 
stronger soils wheat is grown. Ewe flocks may be kept, but 
many farms buy in lambs for further keep on grassland or 
"winter" ewe hoggs from hill farms. Except in the more 
remote districts, there is considerable emphasis on com- 
mercial egg production. In this area was developed the 
Clydesdale horse, now used for draft over all the province 
except where the Highland pony still has its adherents in 
the West Highlands. 

In the Clyde valley, in the vicinity of the town of Lanark, 


lies one of the "gardens of Scotland." The "apple-yards" 
of Lanark are mentioned by an eighth-century chronicler, 
but the main area of fruit and glass-house production now 
covers a much wider district, overlapping on each side of 
the valley proper. Tomato-growing is especially noticeable, 
partly owing to the proximity of cheap fuel. Some winter 
crops are grown under glass, but the tomato is paramount. 
The strawberry crop, once very important, has met with 
many vicissitudes. Developed as a field crop about 1860, a 
rapid increase in planting took place, but mainly owing to 
the onset of disease almost 1,000 acres went out of cultiva- 
tion between 1914 and 1933. Partly offsetting this decline 
is a growing acreage under raspberries. Plums are also 
important. On the southern side of the river the land rises 
gradually to end in an area of upland and moor. South of 
the towns of Strathaven and Lanark this high-lying region 
passes into the district described as the Southern Uplands. 
West of Lanark and north of Strathaven lies an area at 
about 500-600 feet elevation concerned mainly with 
wholesale milk and receding down to the border of Ren- 


Renfrewshire, lying due west and south-west of Glasgow, 
contains an area of low uplands and moor in its south- 
western corner where it bounds with Lanarkshire. This 
upland region runs in a north-westerly direction, and with 
several intervening spaces of low ground joins up with a 
definitely hill region in the western corner of the shire. On 
the higher grounds of these two areas hill sheep farming is 
found, but the lower groutids are concerned principally with 
milk production. The north-east corner, on the alluvial 
terraces of the Clyde, has a stretch of highly arable land 
with potatoes and wheat important. The farming practice 
in this district has been modified of late, due to the intro- 


duction of the sheep enterprise, the shortage of town dung, 
the smaller demand for hay from the adjacent town areas, 
and the influence of the Wheat Act. Where park sheep are 
kept the old four-course rotation of oats, potatoes, wheat 
or oats, and hay has been lengthened by adding two or 
three years' grass. Second early potatoes, in the hands of 
large growers, are a feature of this locality. Over the county 
as a whole poultry are important, and near the urban 
districts, as in all shires abutting on Glasgow, pig-keeping 
for pork and bacon is found. Paisley provides a clearing 
market for dairy stock drawn from a wide area, and while 
on the lower inlying farms many dairy herds are maintained 
by purchase, rearing of replacement stock is universal on 
the higher-lying and cheaper-rented farms. Herds of British 
Friesians are a noticeable feature in Renfrewshire farming. 
Where park sheep are kept the Half-bred ewe is most 
common, and crossing with a Suffolk ram to obtain lambs 
dropped in early February is a usual practice. The low-lying 
parts of the county in the vicinity of Glasgow are densely 
populated, and shipbuilding, engineering, thread-making, 
and textiles (in Paisley) are the main avenues of industrial 
employment. The central parts contain many small towns, 
while another industrial area engaged in shipbuilding, ship 
repairing, marine engineering, and sugar refining is found 
around Greenock and Port Glasgow. 

To the south this shire marches with the portion of North 
Ayrshire included in this district. This part of a large county 
is essentially a dairying area, having for long supplied the 
Glasgow district with milk, either direct or through the 
farmers' co-operative creameries, which were the first in 
Scotland to be established. Since the end of the War poultry 
have increased rapidly, and many localities are very heavily 
stocked. The influence of soil on cropping is marked here. 
A heavy loam, too heavy for profitable greencropping, is 
found over a large part of this area. The greencrop acreage 
is much smaller than the average for the province, and in 


some instances is completely absent. Timothy meadows are 
very frequently met with, and the hay crop is important. 
Ryegrass seed is threshed for sale over an area extending 
into the next region. 

Herds of British Friesians and many Friesian-Ayrshire 
crosses are common, but the Ayrshire cow, originally 
improved in this county, is numerically most important, as 
it is in the whole south-western part of the province. A 
description of dairying practice here will apply with little 
modification, except as regards the importance of greencrop, 
to conditions found in most areas of the large central 
dairying belt. Average cow herds run at about twenty-five 
to forty cows with varying proportions of followers. Winter 
milk production is important. Where possible, home-rearing 
of incoming heifers is aimed at, many farms renting grass to 
summer young stock. The "grass-milk" period is from May to 
October, with only day-grazing in the closing weeks. In late 
summer and early autumn declining pastures are supple- 
mented with concentrates, kale, and the first of the turnip 
crop. The "winter-milk" period lasts for about seven 
months, when practically no grazing is available. Usually 
all stock are housed for the winter, and hay, roots, and oat 
straw form the basis of the ration, with home-grown oats 
and purchased concentrates fed for production. Remodelling 
of byre accommodation is constantly going on, so that a 
high standard has been reached. 


This region stretches from around West Kilbride in the 
north to Girvan in the south, and reaches back to the 
upland areas which adjoin Lanarkshire and, further south, 
to the hill country of the Southern Upland district. Dairying 
is again the major enterprise, but in the east and south-east 
localities milk production is more seasonal and cheese-making, 
although considerably declined, is still commonly carried 


on. Poultry are again important, while ewe flocks are found 
on the low ground and lower upland farms. 

The growing of early potatoes on the light soils of the 
coast is a feature of this region. The town of Girvan may 
be regarded as the centre of the early potato industry in 
the south, but there is also a similar area towards the north, 
of which West Kilbride may be regarded as centre. Second 
earlies are also grown near Ayr and Monkton, while the 
potatoes grown inland from Irvine and Troon are also lifted 
considerably in advance of the main crops, generally in the 
month of August. The bulk of the Ayrshire earlies come on 
to the market in July, being usually a little later than the 
earliest crops from similar localities in Wigtownshire, and 
in addition to meeting a large Scottish demand are exported 
to North of England markets. Production is mainly in the 
hands of large growers. The seed is sprouted, planted usually 
in February on light coastal sands heavily manured with 
dung and seaweed and liberally treated with artificial 
manures. The crops are sold by auction just before digging 
commences. Cattle fattening is generally practised on the 
coastal potato-growing farms between Girvan and Dunure, 
and also on some of the potato-growing farms in the northern 
area. On a few of these coastal farms, and generally on the 
other potato farms and mixed farms, dairying is practised. 
The normal five-course rotation is often departed from. The 
seeds may be left for pasture for one or often more years, 
and potatoes often without dung (if it is required for potato 
land not in rotation) may be taken after lea. Recent years 
have seen an increased acreage of wheat grown after potatoes. 
The Italian ryegrass, which is usually grown as a catch-crop 
after early potatoes, is sometimes left as a hay crop for one 
year so as to break the continuity of this crop. 

Back towards the hills rotations are longer and grass more 
important, while dairying assumes chief place and some 
ryegrass seed is sold. Cheese is made, sometimes the local 
cheddar type termed Dunlop. The decline in the number 


of cheese-making farms in Ayrshire since the turn of the 
century, and especially in the post-war period, is marked, 
and in consequence of this pig numbers declined consider- 
ably, although recent years have seen a definite upturn in 
this enterprise. 

Blackface ewes are generally found in the hills, and 
Border-Leicester Blackface cross ewes on the lower ground. 
Border-Leicester rams are used with the Blackface ewe on 
the better hill land and Blackface rams on the poorest 
grazings. For early lamb production on the low ground the 
Suffolk ram is commonly used on cross ewes. 


This region consists of all that part of the Southern High- 
lands of Scotland which lie within the province. The biggest 
area of these Highlands is to be found in the province of 
the south-east of Scotland, but large stretches lie in the 
south of Lanarkshire, all down the east of Ayrshire, and 
the northern parts of the counties of Kirkcudbright and 
Dumfries. Thus it includes all the more mountainous parts 
of these counties not dealt with in other regions. It consists 
entirely of hill and moor, and in some respects resembles 
the Highland region, especially in the Galloway hill country, 
where conditions are generally more bleak and rugged than 
the kindlier, rounded, grassy hills of Dumfries. 

Sheep farming is the main enterprise, with cattle rearing 
subsidiary. In the west and north-west the Blackface pre- 
dominates, but Cheviots increase in numbers towards the 
east. Many of the store cattle reared in the southern districts 
are of the Galloway breed, an ancient breed native to this 
district and once exported, like the Highland, into England 
in great numbers. The hill sheep farming of the eastern parts 
of this district merges into that common to the Cheviot hills, 
the practice of which is described in the section of the 
East of Scotland Province. 



This region stretches from the Ayrshire border south of 
Girvan to the Scottish border near Gretna and to the 
junction with the East of Scotland Province at the Roxburgh- 
shire boundary. Conditions necessarily vary considerably 
over such a wide stretch. The rough rugged hill country 
already described in the previous section (Region vi) lies 
in the northern parts of Kirkcudbright and Dumfries. The 
rest of this region is made up of the more kindly hill land, 
the river dales or valleys, and the low land of the coast. 
Wigtownshire divides itself into the moors, about 600 feet 
in elevation, occupying most of the north, and the coast and 
peninsular parts, very little above sea-level, on the south. 
The low land of Kirkcudbright is found on the coast and in 
the valleys of the Rivers Cree, Dee, and Urr. In Dumfries 
the rugged hills come nearer to the coast, but the long 
valleys of the Nith, the Annan, and the Esk, as well as the 
lesser valleys of the Lochar and the Kirtle, together with 
the district on the shores of the Solway, provide areas 
available for low-ground farming. 

The region is mainly rural, the principal towns being 
important mainly as market towns. Dairying is the main 
farming activity, but towards the east much of its develop- 
ment is of more recent origin than in Lanark, Dunbarton, 
Renfrew, and Ayr. The increase in cow stocks has been 
rapid in post-war years, partly displacing from the mixed 
farms cattle rearing and feeding, which has been pushed 
back from the good land on to the poorer, high-lying 
pastures. Wigtown and Kirkcudbright, together with parts 
of Ayrshire and the Kintyre peninsula, are Scotland's only 
important cheese-making areas. In Dumfries, on the other 
hand, cheese-making is unimportant. Poultry figures much 
more prominently in Dumfries than in the other two 
counties. Wigtown and Kirkcudbright, mainly on account of 
the whey by-product from cheese-making, are the principal 


pig-keeping districts of the province. The fattening of pur- 
chased and home-bred stores is widespread over these 
counties, and supplies of bacon and pork are sent to other 
parts of Scotland and to England. 

Characteristics of Wigtownshire farming, in contrast to 
inlying counties near the industrial belt, are the shorter 
rotation and greater acreages of roots and oats per farm, 
the relatively larger cow herds, the more seasonal nature of 
the production, and the place occupied by farm cheese- 
making. In many respects the peninsular "Rhinns" district 
of this county resembles the Kintyre district of Argyll. The 
general scheme of cropping is oats, greencrop, oats, followed 
by three or four years' pasture. On some farms hay is taken 
from either the first or last year of the pasture, while on a 
number of farms meadow grass meets this requirement. 
Timothy meadows are nowhere important. Blackface or 
Greyface cross lambs are the product of the higher land of 
the county, while the Down ram by Half-bred ewe cross is 
used where early lamb is aimed at. On the shores of Loch 
Ryan and at Glenluce early potatoes are grown. East of 
Glenluce, i.e. in the Machers district of the county, cattle 
rearing and fattening for beef production is carried on, and 
crossing the Galloway or Aberdeen-Angus bull with Short- 
horn cows to obtain rearing calves is practised. The cross 
of the White Shorthorn bull with Galloway cows is also 

Much of the land in Kirkcudbright is very broken owing 
to the outcrop of rock. Much of what has been said of 
dairying in Wigtownshire can be taken as applying here. 
Among dairy farms the "bowing" or letting of dairies is 
common. Some cattle fattening is carried on in the parishes 
surrounding the town of Kirkcudbright, but the change-over 
to dairying has affected this practice. As regards sheep, the 
more northerly third of the county included in the Southern 
Uplands district may be looked on as Blackface sheep 
country, while low-ground and park sheep are confined to 


the more southerly part. The Borgue and Kirkcudbright 
districts produce Half-bred ewe lambs for sale, while many 
of the dairy farms run Half-bred, Cheviot or Blackface ewes, 
the two former breeds being permanent park flocks. Mostly 
the cross is with a Border-Leicester ram, but sometimes 
Suffolk rams are used to obtain early lambs. The prevailing 
rotation is the six- to seven-course shift. 

Dumfries shows mixed farming in all its variations. 
Dairying (mainly for liquid milk), the sale of prime dairy 
stock, poultry, pigs, cattle rearing and feeding, ewe flocks 
and early lambs, sheep fattening on turnips, and growing of 
second early and maincrop potatoes the latter enterprise 
generally concentrated on the fine soils of the Annan 
district have varied emphasis in different localities. There 
is only one rotation that is followed to any great extent, 
namely oats, greencrop, oats (with grass seeds), hay, and a 
varying number of years in grass. Quite frequently the seeds 
are grazed instead of being hayed. Only a few farms are 
now on a five-course rotation, and six-year shifts are not as 
common as formerly. Where dairying is practised seven-year 
and eight-year rotations are usual. 

Milk production has increased greatly in this county in 
post-war years, and it now ranks high among the largest 
milk-producing counties in Scotland. The fattening of cattle 
is practised on farms fairly well distributed among the dairy 
farms. There is no district that can now be regarded as a 
purely cattle-feeding area, although this branch is important 
south of the town of Dumfries and generally among the 
southerly fringe of the county. No hard-and-fast line of 
demarcation now exists as between dairy and non-dairy 

The park sheep are either Cheviot ewes from the hills or 
Half-bred ewes from intermediate localities. On the lower 
and better sheep farms the Border-Leicester-Blackface cross 
is common. On the real low-lying farm the Cheviot and 
Half-bred ewes are crossed with a Border-Leicester or 


Down ram. The favourite Down ram is the Suffolk, but 
Oxfords are frequently used. There is always a fair demand 
for good quality Half-bred ewe lambs for stock purposes, 
but the great majority of park lambs are sold for the London 
market, some straight off the ewe as early lamb. The 
remainder are turnip-fattened and sold later. Cross lambs, 
Cheviot wether lambs, and Blackface wether lambs from 
the higher grounds and the hills are also fattened on turnips 
in winter, while many go into England to be fattened there. 


Owing to the frequent recurrence of references to crops and live stocky all references 

are not given. Where the term by Provinces" is used, the references are only to 

the pages on which references to the province as a whole are made and not to any 

references to the subject in the description of regions. 

Agricultural Holdings Acts 31 
Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act 276 
Allotments 41 

Bakewell, Robert 104 

Barley: importance of, in England and Wales 19 
in Scotland 26 

for seed 238 

growing in Scotland 263, 273, 280, 282, 298 

on the chalk 82-3, 109, 129, 146, 149, 162-3 

on light land 121-4, 168-9, 179, 218 
Beans see Vegetable Production 
Beef see Cattle Fattening 
Best, Dr. 83 
Border raids 40, 79 
Bowing system 159, 294 
British Dairy Farmers' Association 1 67 
Bulb-growing see Flowers 

Butter-making : decline in farm 122, 160, 178, 183, 185 
with stock-rearing 89, 99, 207 

Caird 203-4 

Carrots see Vegetable Production 

Carslaw, R. McG. 1 18 fn. 

Cattle : fattening in England and Wales 22-3 

in Scotland 27-8 
decline of 86, 89, 106, 122, 129, 150, 168, 206, 219, 223, 237, 

274. 309 
in yards 89, 106, 108-9, 220, 2 37> 259-60, 263-4, 281-2, 285-7, 

301, 310-11 
on grass 44-5, 86, 90, 101, iio-n, 142, 167, 170, 180, 198-9, 

220, 243, 260, 263-4 

Cattle-rearing in England and Wales 23 
in Scotland 28 

dairy stock 46-7, 56, 78-9, 101, 186, 188, 221, 299 
for beef 47, 182, 188, 197, 208, 217, 221, 244, 259 etseq., 
281, 285 et seq. t 299, 300, 308 


Celery see Vegetable Production 

Cheese-making 58, 66-8, 100, 107, 159, 160, 206-7, 215-16, 242, 

297-8> 306, 307-85 309 
Chicory 75 
Chorley, John 63 
Cider orchards 179-80, 183, 197 
Clarke 122 fn. 
Climate see Rainfall 
Cockle Park Experimental Station 44 
Coke of Holkham 1 1 7 
Colling Brothers 46 
Crofting system 255, 265 

Dairy farming see Milk Production 
Devonshire cream 183 
Domesday Survey 116 

Flax 75,90 
Flint-knapping 123 

Flower-growing 127, 132, 184-5, 1 %1> l %9 
Forest of Galtries 88 
Forestry Commission 123, 219 

Fruit-growing 127, 131, 132, 139, 141, 144-5, 146-7, 160-1, 165, 166, 
167-8, 184, 198-9, 202, 219, 224, 231, 288, 301, 304 

Glasshouse cultivation 65, 127, 147, 151, 165-6, 202, 224, 232, 245, 304 

Hanley, Nicholson and 1 16 fn. 

Hill-land, distribution of, in Great Britain 14-15 

by Provinces 37-8, 52-3, 74, 96-7, 115, 137, 
*5&-7> *75-7> '94-5> 212-13, 228, 254-5, 
272, 292 
Holt 63 

Hops 141, 144-5, J47> r 97> '99> 219 
Hops Marketing Board 152, 199 
Horses, rearing of 232, 237, 238-9, 241, 243-4, 266 
Horticultural Products (Abnormal Importations) Act 187 

Industrial areas, influence of farming 18-19, 43-4, 59-62, 76-7, 103, 
221-2, 236-7 

INDEX 315 

Labour, employed on farms : in Great Britain 32-4 

by Provinces 42-3, 53, 75, 98, 137, 157-8, 

196, 214-15, 235-6, 255, 275-6, 294 
Land, area used for agriculture: England and Wales 13 

Scotland 13 
Wales 230 

by Provinces 37, 51, 73, 95, 1 15, 136, 
155, !73> !93> 211, 253, 271-2, 

Land reclamation 62-3, 80- 1, 131-2, 142 
Land-holding by colliery companies 41 
Land tenure: in Great Britain 30-1 

by Provinces 40-1, 53-4, 157, 214, 235, 255, 275, 294 
Liquorice 75, 77 

Makings, S. M. 95 fn., 106 
Mangolds see Root Crops 
Marketing Gardening see Vegetable Production 
Marling 58-9, 88-9 
Middleton , John 1 65 

Milk Marketing Board 46, 48, 67, 68, 76, 122, 182, 183, 207 
Milk Production: in England and Wales 21-2 
in Scotland 27 

decline of farm butter-making see Butter-making 
decline of farm cheese-making 65-9, 107, 159-60, 

215-16, 297-8, 307-8, 309-10 
displacing cattle-fattening 99-101, 122, 150, 168, 

219, 223, 301, 311 
in industrial areas 43, 60-1, 76, 103-4, 221-2, 237, 


on grassland farms 127, 140, 145, 148, 159-60, 
164-5, l6 7> 1 7> HA 1 9 Q > 201-2, 206-7, 215-16, 
223, 238-9, 305-6 
on "mixed" farms 86, 104, 125, 143, 166-7, ^9? 

178, 200, 218, 220, 261-2, 274 
on stock-raising farms 46, 47-8, 56, 57-8, 78, 99-101, 

102-3, IIO > *82, 240 et seq. 
open-air bail system 163-4, 2O 4 
town dairies 283-4 
see also Cheese-making 
Mustard 90, 131 

National Institute for Research in Dairying 165 
National Mark Scheme 139 
Nicholson and Hanley 1 1 6 fn. 


Oats, distribution of: England and Wales 19 

Scotland 26 
as main crop 43, 47, 184, 186, 188, 222, 231, 254, 259, 272-3, 293 

Part-time farming 60, 108, 118, 222 
Pigs Marketing Board 152, 274 
Pigs, distribution of: England and Wales 25 
Scotland 29 

as main live-stock enterprise 124 

bacon production 85 

on butter-making farms 178,186 

on cheese-making farms 68, 160, 206, 216, 308, 309-10 

on suburban holdings 166, 284, 305 

pork production 234, 244 
Population, areas of dense: Great Britain 18-19 

by Provinces 38-9, 51-2, 73-4, 95-6, 

211-12, 228-9, 253, 271, 291 

Potatoes, distribution of crop : England and Wales 20 

Scotland 26-7 

early-crop 130, 147, 185, 187, 238, 283, 307, 310 
for seed 243, 285, 287, 300 
main-crop 43, 64, 66, 90, 105, 108, 131, 132, 180-1, 219, 

231, 263, 273, 283, 305, 311 
Poultry, distribution of: England and Wales 25-6 

Scotland 29 

as an important enterprise 41-2, 59, 77, 122, 126, 127, 139, 
1 66, 179, 1 86, 217, 220, 234, 237, 239, 242, 245, 262, 266, 
274> 2 93, 303, 307 

Rainfall distribution : in Great Britain 15-16 

by Provinces 38, 74-5, 97-8, 116, 136, 157, 

!74-5> I95> 213, 227, 255, 292-3 
Research, farmers' interest in 69 
Regions used for description (the reference is to the page on which the 

list of regions in the province is given) 
North of England 43 
Lancashire and Cheshire 54 
Yorkshire 75-6 
East Midland Counties 101-2 
Eastern Counties 120 
South-eastern Counties 137-8 
South and South Midland Counties 158 
South-western Counties 178 

INDEX 317 

Regions used for description continued 
West of England Counties 196 
West Midland Counties 215 
Wales 236 

North of Scotland 258 
East and South-east Scotland 277 
West and South-west Scotland 295 
Rhubarb 62, 77 

Roman remains 40, 98, 105, 1 08, 201 
Roscoe 63 
Root crops : distribution in England and Wales 20-1 

in Scotland 27 
displaced by vegetables 218 
proportion of acreage in 44, 231 
sheep feeding on 82, 162, 168, 279, 311 
supplanted by sugar beet 122 
Rotation of crops 86, 88, 90, 109, 121, 129, 150, 163, 169, 184, 186, 

257> 259, 280, 282, 283, 298, 300, 303, 305, 307, 310, 311 
Rural Workers' Housing Act 275 
Rye 123 

Scotland, Department of Agriculture 274 
Scottish Agricultural Securities Corporation 275 
Scottish Milk Marketing Board 284, 298 
Sheep : distribution in England and Wales 23-5 

in Scotland 28-9 
grass-feeding 44, 85, 86, 104, 128, 138, 140, 142-3, 143, 167, 

182, 183, 198, 216, 233-4, 237 et seq., 262, 280, 298 et seq. 
hill-breeding 45-6, 56, 77-8, 80, 182, 188, 197, 207, 216-17, 
221, 233-4, 237 et seq., 262, 264-5, 266-7, 279, 285, 287, 

296-7? 3 et se ^ 
on arable 82-3, 90, 103-4, Io6 > Io8 > IO 9> J 24> I2 9> . J 43> r 45> 

149, 150, 162-3, l6 8, 169, 1 80, 200, 202-4, 220, 280 
Size of farms : Great Britain 31-2 

by Provinces 53, 75, 118, 136-7, 157, 195-6, 214, 234-5, 

274-5. 294 
Soils : in Great Britain 16-18 

by Provinces 75, 97, 115-16, 137, 156-7, 175-7, I 94~5 ? 212-13, 


Stephenson, George 63 
Sugar Beet (Subsidy) Act 117 
Sugar beet : distribution in England and Wales 20 

in Scotland 27 
Sugar beet 89, 90, 105, 108, 109, 118, 121-2, 123, 124, 129, 131, 150, 

169, 218-19, 273 
Swedes see Root crops 


Tanner 181 

Tomatoes see Glasshouse cultivation 

Tull,Jethro 117 

Turnips see Root crops 

Vegetable Production 58, 62, 87, 90, 105, 125, 127, 129-30, 131-2, 
146-8, 150-1, 160, 165-6, 184-5, 186-7, 198-200, 202, 205, 214, 
219, 223-4, 231, 237, 242-3, 245, 283 

Wakefield 63 

Warping 89-90 

Wheat Act 19, 91, 117, 130, 200, 273 

Wheat: distribution in England and Wales 19 

in Scotland 26 
as an important crop 85, 86, 90, 105, 109, no, 122, 124, 128 

et seq., 149, 150, 168, 169, 218-19, 280, 282, 287 
Willow-growing 165, 205 
Women, importance in farm cheese-making 67 

employment of see Labour 
Wool, export of 23, 297 
Wood, R. O. 95 fn. 

particulars of publications 

of similar interest 

issued by 









The Reyival of Agriculture 




Crown 8w. " 35. 6d. net 

Here is a book that gives -the truth about agricultural revival. It differs from 
most books dealing with this question in that it is prepared by a group of 
individuals with a thorough knowledge of the subject. The members of the 
Rural Reconstruction Association have not only been concerned, during the 
last quarter of a century, with large-scale schemes of land settlement and 
rural revival in this country, but have personally dealt with problems of 
agricultural reconstruction in India, Central Europe, Palestine and other 

The book provides readers with full information in a simple and direct form 
on the history, the economics, and the facts of the case ; it also presents a 
policy for the future. 

Britain's Trade and Agriculture: Their Recent 
Evolution and Future Development 

Author of A Short History of English Rural Life 

La. Crown Qvo. *]s. &d. net 

In an appreciative review of The Rebuilding of Rural England (Mr. Fordham's 
last work), The Times said: "If the principles he enunciates are sound, they 
are equally applicable to the whole industrial fabric." Mr. Fordham has acted 
on the hint, and this book is the result. Historical research gives especial 
interest to the earlier part of this book, which is, however, also constructive. 

The Farm and the Nation 

by SIR E. JOHN RUSSELL, O.B.E., D.Sc., F.R.S. 

La. Crown Qvo. js. 6d. net 

Thoughtful people in all sections of the community are now interesting them- 
selves in the possibilities of better utilization of this country and of the Empire, 
for it is widely recognized that a fuller use of our own soil would help con- 
siderably in the solution of our many social problems. Sir John Russell, who 
is Director of our oldest and largest agricultural experiment station, sets out 
here the essential features of the various problems involved, in such a way 
that they can be readily grasped by the non-technical reader: at the same 
time full references are given to the more important sources of further informa- 
tion, thereby facilitating more detailed study. The book should prove useful 
to all who desire an impartial examination of this very important subject. 

Can Land Settlement Solve Unemployment? 

(Formerly M.P. for Rotherham) 

Foreword by the RT. HON. DAVID LLOYD GEORGE, O.M., M.P. 

La. Crown Qvo. $s. 6d. net 

"The book ... is an extremely valuable contribution to a difficult subject 
on which general knowledge is limited, and ought to be extended . . . the 
book suggests a sound, detailed, and practical basis for a main part of the 
policy.* ' Spectator